Intervention to Strengthen Emotional Self-Regulation in Children with Emerging Mental Health Problems: Proximal Impact on School Behavior
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Wyman, P.A., Cross, W., Hendricks Brown, C. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2010) 38: 707. doi:10.1007/s10802-010-9398-x
- 1.3k Downloads
A model for teaching children skills to strengthen emotional self-regulation is introduced, informed by the developmental concept of scaffolding. Adult modeling/instruction, role-play and in vivo coaching are tailored to children’s level of understanding and skill to promote use of skills in reallife contexts. Two-hundred twenty-six kindergarten—3rd grade children identified with elevated behavioral and social classroom problems from a population-based screening participated in a waitlisted randomized trial of the Rochester Resilience Project derived from this model. In 14 lessons with school-based mentors, children were taught a hierarchical set of skills: monitoring of emotions; selfcontrol/ reducing escalation of emotions; and maintaining control and regaining equilibrium. Mentors provided classroom reinforcement of skill use. Multi-level modeling accounting for the nesting of children in schools and classrooms showed the following effects at post-intervention: reduced problems rated by teachers in behavior control, peer social skills, shy-withdrawn and off-task behaviors (ES 0.31–0.47). Peer social skills improved for girls but not for boys. Children receiving the intervention had a 46% mean decrease in disciplinary referrals and a 43% decrease in suspensions during the 4-month intervention period. Limitations and future directions to promote skill transfer are discussed.