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History & Conceptual Base of Parent Management Training

PMT began in the 1960s by child psychologists who studied changing children’s disruptive behaviors by changing parent behaviors. The idea grew that parents, even without professional training, can influence their children’s behaviors, help them overcome challenges and learn new skills. 

PMT is also inspired by principles of “operant conditioning” (a learning process to modify behavior through rewards and punishments) and applied behavioral analysis (ABA) (applying this concept to everyday life, not only within a clinical setting). PMT looks at one behavior as increasing or decreasing the likelihood of another behavior from occurring. 

PMT was influenced by Gerald Patterson, whose work focused on ABA and children with aggressive behaviors, specifically coercion. Groundbreaking for its time, coercion referred to a sequence of actions and reactions between parent and child that increase the frequency and intensity of aggressive behaviors. This then influences the quality of the parent-child relationship, both positively and negatively.

PMT’s strong, conceptual research base is summarized in four core principles: 

1 – PMT improves behaviors and skills, based on concepts of social, emotional and behavioral functioning and by addressing both the causes and consequences of behavior.

2 – PMT treatment techniques rely on concepts of human functioning.

3 – Parents learn specific skills (like role play) toward improving child behaviors and functioning, with a heavy focus on positive reinforcement.

4 – Clinicians use assessment and evaluation data to make needed changes to intervention strategies, as well as to develop new treatment goals once current treatment goals are met.

PMT applies to a wide variety of populations and issues. While its primary focus is treating children with oppositional, aggressive and antisocial behaviors, PMT strategies can be used for parents seeking guidance on typical parenting issues or for a child showing athletic or artistic talent.

Learn more about the Parenthood Center at CFI…


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