Program

Nov 13, 2006

OVERVIEW

Peer Coping-Skills Training (PCS) is designed for
aggressive children in first through third grade to improve prosocial behaviors
and interactions with peers. Group sessions are administered in the PCS
program and focus on role-play tasks as well as group activities to provide
realistic situations for positive social interactions. The study
evaluation of children categorized at baseline to be aggressive found that PCS
was effective in reducing teacher ratings of aggression and increasing teacher
ratings of prosocial coping. Likewise, aggressive children in the PCS
program had improvements in observed prosocial coping on an information
exchange task. No positive or negative impacts were found for children
who were categorized as non-aggressive at baseline.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Aggressive school-age
children in first through third grade

The
PCS program consists of five main parts within each session: group rules,
reunion, probes, group activity, and group reward. Each session begins
with a discussion of the group rules which underlie the program. In the
reunion phase, children discuss either pleasurable or distressing events which
have occurred since the last meeting. Probes are small role-play
situations which are rehearsed in pairs and scored by an evaluator. After
each probe, the child is given feedback on his or her role-play in order to
promote the acquisition of prosocial-coping skills. Probes are ongoing
while the rest of the children are in the group activity, where they work on a
task, craft, or game. Group rewards are given to promote rule following,
group cohesion, and motivation.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Prinz,
R. J., Blechman, E. A., and Dumas, J. E. (1994). An evaluation of
peer-coping skills training for childhood aggression. Journal of
Clinical Child Psychology, 11,
193-203.

Evaluated population: 196 children
in grades one through three from six elementary public schools in Columbia, South Carolina,
and Denver, Colorado. A total of 25 classes were
randomly assigned to treatment or control conditions. The aggressive child
group was comprised of approximately 66-76% African-American and Hispanics
while the competent-nonaggressive group was made up of 66-72% African-American
and Hispanic children.

Approach: Assignment of conditions was done on a random class-by-class basis with up
to four aggressive children and four socially competent/non-aggressive children
selected from each class. Initial selection of groups (aggressive and
competent-nonaggressive) was determined through teachers’ appraisals of the
students using the Teacher Report Form of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL-T)
and the Communication Effectiveness Scale for Teachers (CES-T). PCS
training was given to, at maximum eight students, four from each group, matched
for sex and ethnicity when possible. Control as well as treatment
classrooms participated in the Good-News Note system as a means of controlling
for classroom environment while ensuring minimal intervention.

Data
in the form of teacher reports, observational reports, and peer measures were
collected both pre and post-intervention to assess the impact of the
intervention. Teacher reports assessed children using three scales
designed to measure social skills, aggressiveness, and internalizing. An
observational report of an information-exchange task was used to assess
prosocial behaviors. To gather this information, researchers videotaped
pairs of children reacting to a specific information-exchange task and later
coded the tapes using the INTERACT/BLISS coding system. Peer acceptance ratings
were assessed by having students rate each other on a 5 point likert scale.

Results: Aggressive children in the PCS treatment condition had improvements in
prosocial coping within the information-exchange task compared with children in
the control group. Aggressive children in the treatment condition also
received lower aggression ratings from teachers. Competent-nonaggressive
children in the treatment group likewise had increased ratings of prosocial
coping within the information-exchange task compared with children in the
control group, but no impacts on aggression, internalizing, social skills, or
peer acceptance were found.

A
follow-up assessment was conducted approximately six months later and found
that aggressive children in treatment conditions had higher teacher-rated
prosocial coping and lower teacher-rated aggression. Although not
statistically significant, there were also increases in teacher-rated social
skills.

The
authors note that PCS training did increase pro-social behavior among
aggressive children, but those increases did not lower aggression levels enough
to move children out of the clinical range. Also, ratings of social
status conducted by peers did not differ significantly for aggressive children
in treatment and control groups, suggesting no initial gains in peer
socialization.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Prinz,
R. J., Blechman, E. A., and Dumas, J. E. (1994). An evaluation of
peer-coping skills training for childhood aggression. Journal of
Clinical Child Psychology, 11,
193-203.

KEYWORDS: Behavioral Problems, Aggression, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Skills Training, Life Skills Training, School-based, Elementary School, African American or Black, Hispanic or Latino, Social/Emotional Health and Development, Middle Childhood (6-11), Social Skills/Life Skills, High-Risk

Program
information last updated 11/13/06