Significant Amount of Literature

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There is significant amount of literature that highlights the importance of early intervention in regards to children"s well being and behavioural interventions. As the subject is so broad this research will concentrate on the significance of behaviour intervention for school aged children. The objective of this research will be to propose multi-interventions in dealing with children"s behavioural difficulties. The literature review will examine research on school based intervention s (teacher behaviour management strategies and school based social skills programmes) and pro-active parenting programmes.

More recently there has been an interest in the role of more closely defined conduct problems, oppositional behaviour in early childhood and going on to the spectrum of aggressive attitudes and behaviour in adolescence and adulthood. Programmes aimed at modifying the evolution of these attitudes and behaviour are being devised for strategic points through the life course. One aspect of the new knowledge that informs these programmes is an understanding of the way in which experience in the first three years of life can enhance or inhibit the development of compassion and co-operation and the crucial significance of attachment.

Intervention studies which deliver preventive programmes to individuals who show risk factors have demonstrated that there maybe a possibility to ‘turn them around" (Weissberg & Greenberg 19980. Much remains to be learned about the generalisability and long-term effectiveness of these programmes, but they do provide confirmation of the theory and a basis for hope.

Aim of the Research

The aim of the research will be looking at secondary intervention measures to behavioural problems as opposed to primary intervention. Primary intervention aims to remove the causes of problems or increase the resistance of individuals in order to stop the problem occurring in the first place; in contrast secondary intervention involves the early detection and treatment of problems.

Objectives of the Research

1. To establish whether individual parenting programmes are effective in improving the behavioural adjustment of children 6-7 years of age.

2. Identify approaches to prevention and intervention of services and their ability to support positive outcomes for children experiencing ‘challenging" behaviour.

3. To assess and evaluate the effectiveness and generalisibility of:

  • ‘Stop, Think and Do" Social Skills programme
  • Triple P Parenting Programme
  • Behaviour Management support for teachers

4. Is it better to have a targeted or a universal approach to behaviour problems in schools?

5. Dependent of findings, propose a ‘Whole School Approach" to support children with problem behaviour by using a ‘Multi-Intervention Approach" to addressing the current issues faced within schools.

6. Identify the gaps in current knowledge in behaviour intervention in primary schools and implications on practice.

7. Make recommendations about how to address these concerns.

Severity of the Problem

There is an increasing body of research indicating that the quality of the parent infant relationship in particular creates the conditions for establishing healthy patterns of functioning in childhood and adulthood; early secure attachments with the parents provide the basis for secure attachments in later life (Stein 1999) and that insecure attachment prior to age 2 is related to a range or poor outcomes including conduct problems, low sociability, poor peer relations, symptoms of anger, and poor behavioral self-control during the preschool years (Carlson 1995), and to adolescent anxiety (Warren 1997), dissociation (Ogawa 1997), drug use, and delinquency (Garnier 1998) in later life.

Behavioral problems are one of the most important causes of functional disability in children (Bone 1989). Their prevalence has been estimated to be as high as 20% in urban areas (Campbell 1995). A study showed that between 15 - 21% of reception class school children exhibited emotional and behavioral problems (St James-Roberts, 1994). Disruptive behavioral patterns during the early school years have been shown to dramatically increase the risk for later antisocial behavior (Tremblay, Pihl, Vitaro, & Dobkin, 1994).

Munn et al."s (2004) survey of 699 primary school teachers compared their perceptions of pupil behaviour with an earlier study conducted in 1996 and concluded that teachers in 2006 were encountering greater disruption. Another survey for the GTC (2006) found that 27% of teachers thought discipline problems had increased a lot over last 5 years and 53% thought it has become a little worse. In an ATL survey (2008) 2/3 respondents believed behaviour is getting worse.

The Dunedin study showed that antisocial behaviour at age 13 was predicted by externalizing behaviour at age 3 and behaviour problems at age 5 (Robins 1991). A 22-year follow-up study showed that peer-rated aggression at age 8 predicted the number of convictions by age 30, as well as the seriousness of the crimes (Eron 1990). These are rigorously-established associations but, as Rutter (2003) has warned, their application through policy and practice to effective prevention has yet to be proven.

Longitudinal studies have identified different patterns of antisocial behaviour between the genders, showing a marked difference, (Fergusson and Horwood, 2002). A cross-national study using data from six longitudinal research programmes found a consistent pattern of chronic physical aggression in early childhood associated in boys but not girls with increased risk of continued physical violence and of non-violent forms of delinquency in adolescence (Broidy, Nagin and Tremblay, 2003).

School-wide approach to Behaviour Intervention

Whole school or universal interventions can be defined as those which target the whole population, none of which have been identified or selected on the basis of individual risk factors. Studies using this approach could involve interventions which target the whole school or a specific age group over a number of years. Some of the potential benefits of universal programmes are said to be relatively high participation rates and the possibility of impacting on "at risk" groups in an inclusive way (Sutton et al. 2005).

Schools in contrast face a variety of distinct problems dependent on their families and the communities nevertheless they raise some overlapping issues. Today"s educators report problem behaviour and classroom management as one of their top concerns (Farkas, Johnson, and Foleno, 2000; Mitchell and Arnold, 2004). The severity of the problems may significantly vary but it is impacting on children"s learning time. Although it is difficult to be exact but according to Scott and Barrett (2004) instructional time lot in classrooms over behaviour management issues comes to 6,000 hours over a 1 year period.

A variety of strategies, policies and programmes have been implemented by schools in response to this. Universal programmes may have the purpose of either reducing negative behaviours or alternatively increasing protective or positive behaviours. They may encompass specific activities to teach knowledge, attitudes and skills to children, or be designed to modify the school climate so that undesirable behaviour becomes unacceptable and positive behaviour is rewarded. Interventions may focus on remedying specific negative problems such as bullying or violence, or use interventions such as conflict resolution to promote communication and problem-solving rather than blame among those involved in undesirable behaviour (Smith et al. 2005).

Whole school approaches are based on the premise that undesirable behaviours spring from a complex process of social interactions (Vreeman & Carroll, 2007), necessitating a systematic solution involving the whole school community. It has been emphasized that schools are a key socializing context (Weissberg et al 1991), thus interventions need to address the social context of behaviour. They highlight the important role that schools have in creating an atmosphere where pro-social values are encouraged and where there are sanctions against negative behaviours. (Naylor and Cowie, 1999).

Behaviour modification

Interventions were differentiated between promotion (of pro-social behaviours and skills) and prevention (of problematic behaviour) which is prominent in the literature. Studies were categorized in terms of their overall primary aim and focus, although several studies had outcome measures which represented change in both pro-social behaviours and skills, and bullying and disruptive behaviours.

Family Support Services

Emotional and behavioural problems in children are common. Research suggests that parenting has an important role to play in helping children to become adjusted, and that the first few months and years of a child's in establishing patterns of emotional, cognitive and social functioning. Parenting programmes may therefore have a role to play in improving the emotional and behavioural adjustment of children.

Positive proactive parenting is associated with high child self-esteem and social and academic competence, and can be protective against later disruptive behaviour and substance misuse (Cohen 1994). Parenting practices characterized by harsh and inconsistent discipline, little positive parental involvement with the child, and poor monitoring and supervision, however, are associated with an increased risk of a range of poor outcomes including delinquency and substance abuse (Patterson 1993). And severe conduct problems in early childhood are the result of deficits in the care-giving environment (Shaw 2001).

To involve families within early intervention and preventative programmes is crucial. The empirical evidence indicates that programmes providing both child centered interventions and family support models that focus on the entire family (Sandall et al., 2000; Simpson et al., 2001; Vinson et al., 2001) are distinctively more effective than solely focusing on the family (Yoshikawa, 1995). These family services are flexible and operate on the individualize needs of the family providing a culturally component service.

Gaps in Research

Rothols and Ford stated:

-"It is a simple task to find existing literature on positive behaviour support. It is considerably more difficult to pinpoint the widespread implementation of these methods at the local level and the systems that promote and support them" (2003, p.355).

Although important progress has begun there remains a need for large scale up studies. Research is limited to small scale studies whereby the validity and the generalisibility of this research is questionable. There remains a gap in research including the effectiveness of these programmes with the socially disadvantages and minorities.

Social Skills

In many ways, schools are failing when it comes to supporting the social and emotional welfare of students (Kauffman, Mock, & Simpson, 2007; Walker et al., 2000). As a result, students who exhibit emotional and behavioural difficulties that adversely impact their academic achievement often go unidentified and, consequently, receive no support until it is too late in their academic careers (Walker et al., 1995).

Longitudinal studies have indicated that children with poor social skills are at greater risk for poor school adjustment and adult psychopathology (Moffitt, Caspi, Harrington, & Milne, 2002; Newman et al., 1996). Specifically, children and adolescents with poor social skills have been shown to be at greater risk for delinquency and antisocial behaviour (Patterson et al., 1992);

Social skills are composed of competencies that provide children with the opportunity to interact and function within their environment, increasing the chances of establishing positive friendships and participation in a wider context. According to Cartledge and Milburn (1995) socials skills are perceived to be socially acceptable behaviours that support and enable individuals to interact and avoid negative responses.

One of the primary criticisms of socials skills programmes is that the skills learnt during training are often not maintained (Nelson and Rutherford, 1988). Especially when children are taken out of classroom situations and not allowed to practice them within the classroom environment. An additional consideration is that the socials skills programmme content do not prepare the child to highly complex social interactions (Scott and Nelson, 1998). An additional problem is as Hansel et al. (1998) reported that teachers selection of social skills learnt may not be seen as relevant to the students.

There is a general consensus that social skills programme as a single intervention does not effectively deal with behavioural problems in children. Alternatively it has been suggested that in order to address behavioural problems the root cause of the problem needs to be identified possibly using functional behavioural assessment (FBA) determining effective intervention (Quinn et al., 1999; Lewis et al., 2000).

Social skills programmes can be separated into those interventions delivered to small groups of children and those delivered to the whole class. Some of the most effective programmes focus on the whole school setting (Sugai, 1996), the advantage here is that children experiencing behavioural problems are not singled out and all children are held accountable.

The selected method for small groups allows the trainer to adapt to the needs of individuals in reference to the behavioural characteristics they display (Fox et al., 2002). This method is seen as effective for those students displaying less positive behaviours and less co-operative behaviour. Nevertheless the intervention should be approached with caution as Walker at al. (1995) highlighted significant disadvantages in selection of students as leading to negative reputation of those involved.

Programmes where the child is taken out of class lacks generalisation as the training does not occur in the child"s natural environment. Finally the small group design does not allow for peer role models that can enhance generalisation in contrast the whole school design allows for multiple peer models, reduces stigma.

Role modelling has shown a positive impact in targeting social skills development (McGinnis and Goldstein, 1997). The use of peers and teachers modelling coping strategies to children experiencing the problem can be beneficial (Frey et al., 2000). A review of the literature of social skills indicates that after years of theorising and researching there remains a lack of consensus on the best practice model, measurement and training programme for children with behavioural difficulties. In addition which skills to be targeted within the intervention become subjective and skills selected without any empirical grounding.

The Stop & Think Social Skills Program

This has been designated as an evidence-based and model prevention program by the U. S. As part of a school-wide positive behavioural self-management approach, the social skills contained in the ‘Stop & Think Social Skills Program" are designed to be taught in all regular classroom settings. It has been built on the foundation that positive, social and emotional school and classroom climates and students" ability to interact with teachers and peers significantly contribute to academic success (Ysseldyke & Christenson, 2002).

The Stop & Think Social Skills Program is founded on ecological research (Knoff, 2000a), strategic planning approaches (Cook, 1990; Knoff, 2002; Valentine, 1991), cognitive and social learning theory research (Bandura, 1977; Meichenbaum, 1977), and social skills research (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995; Goldstein, 1988). Social learning theory model consists of teaching, modelling, role-playing, and providingPerformance feedback as part of the instructional process. Successful generalization of newly acquired social skills hinges on the use of the skills in different settings, with different people, at different times, and across difference situations and circumstances. The programme claims to supports cognitive scripting and mediation, and facilitates the conditioning or reconditioning of pro-social behaviours and choices leading to more and more automatic behaviour (Cole & Bambara, 2000).

Triple P

Triple P program claims to be designed for both parents and children. The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) involves interventions at different levels of intensity that target children"s behavioural and emotional problems. The only ones trialled in research at this stage are those designed for children at risk of developing a Behavioural disorder. The programme aims to change parents thinking patterns and how they behave in relation to both themselves and their children.