FITT Model: Impact on Parenting Practices

  • Summary
  • Assessment Measures
  • Interventions
  • References



Research has firmly demonstrated (1) that parenting practices have a direct effect on children's behaviors and outcomes, and (2) that trauma and living under the stress of urban poverty may impact an individual's ability to parent. Though trauma may not affect the parenting practices of all parents, the experiences of chronic trauma and the stress associated with urban poverty have been associated with decreased parental effectiveness, less warmth, limited understanding of child development and needs, increased use of corporal punishment and harsh discipline, higher incidents of neglect and an overall strategy of reactive parenting. Factors associated with urban poverty such as low neighborhood safety, low income, and racial discrimination have been shown to increase the risk that trauma will negatively impact one's parenting practices, in addition to the following more general risk factors: the parent's own history of childhood abuse, low adult intimate relationship quality, current partner violence, parental substance use, maternal mental illness, and high levels of PTSD symptoms. On the other hand, the literature identifies the following factors as means to protect parenting practices from the negative impacts of trauma: problem solving abilities, positive coping and self care skills, time with family, partner support and social support more generally, and parent-child communication about community violence. Two examples of measures that appear repeatedly in the literature that can be used to assess parenting practice are the Parenting Stress Index (PSI; Abidin, 1990) and the Parent Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC; Gibaud-Wallston & Wandersman, 1978). Interventions addressing parenting practices for parents experiencing chronic trauma and urban poverty, can be divided into two groups, those that are not explicitly trauma-informed but have been found to be successful in similar populations, and those that are designed to address issues of child abuse and neglect, such as such as Steps Towards Effective Enjoyable Parenting (STEEP) and Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) among others.


Assessment Measures

Name of Instrument Author(s) Domains Assessed Age Range  Source/Form (self report, lab, observation, other) # of items Time Cost Training Required Where to obtain  Psychometric Properties Other comments:  
Parenting Stress Index (PSI) Short Form Abidin, 1990 Parental distress (contributing parental factors), difficult child (contributing child factors), parent-child dysfunction interaction Parents of children 1 mo to 12 yr Self-report Full: 120; Short form: 36 Full: 20 to 30 minutes; Short form: less than 10 minutes Full: $175 initial kit (manual, 10 reusable booklets, 25 forms); Short: $122 initial kit (manual, 25 forms); $2.72/form (25 per pkg)  Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Psychological Assessment Resources Strong evidence for reliability and validity  Commonly used in clinical practice as well as research
Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC)  Gibaud-Wallston & Wandersman, 1978; Johnston & Mash, 1989 Measure covers two factors: parent satisfaction & parental self-efficacy Parents of children of all ages  Self-report 17 10 minutes or less  Free Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Available in the public domain. Can also contact first author Charlotte Johnston: Strong evidence for reliability and validity  Each item is scored on a 6-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Older version was written for parents of infants; more recent version was written for parents of older children. 
Children's Report of Parenting Behavior Inventory (CRPBI-30) Schludermann & Schludermann, 1988 Measures 3 dimensions of parenting Acceptance, Psychological Control, and Firm Control/Discipline.  For older children and teens Self-report 30 No time reported Free Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Available in the public domain. Can also contact first author Eduard Schludermann: Strong evidence for reliability and validity  Can be used with clinical samples but measure does not possess any clinical norms or cut-offs. 
Child Abuse Potential Inventory Milner, J.,1980 Purpose is to screen for suspected physical child abuse cases. Possesses 6 factor scales: distress, rigidity, unhappiness, problems w/child & self, problems w/family, and problems w/others. It also contains 3 validity scales: Lie, random response, & inconsistency. Parent Self-report 160 12-20 minutes $180 initial kit (manuals, 10 booklets and various scoring sheets); $2.80/booklet and $0.50 scoring sheets (10 per pkg)  Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Psychological Assessment Resources Strong evidence for reliability and validity  Answers in agree or disagree format. 
Parent Practices Scale Strayhorn & Weidman, 1988 Measure favorable and unfavorable parenting such as how much approval and disapproval the parent gives the child, how and when the child is punished, etc. Three scales, positive and negative parenting practices, total score. Parent Self-report 34 30 minutes Free Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Link (includes different versions): Click Here Some evidence for reliability and validity  
Parenting Dimensions Inventory-Short Version (PDI-S) Power, 2002 Measure of parenting style. Eight dimensions are measured resulting in two scales: warmth and strictness. Parents of children age 3-12 Self-report 27 20 minutes Free Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Contact first author: Some evidence for reliability and validity  
Alabama Parenting Questionnaire  Frick, 1991 Assesses: Positive involvement w/kids, Monitoring/Supervision, Use of positive discipline techniques, Consistency of discipline, Use of Corporal Punishment, Other Discipline Practices Child and Parent Child Form, Child Telephone Interview, Parent Form, Parent Telephone Interview 42 per form  No time reported Free Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Link: Click Here Strong evidence for reliability and validity   There's also a short form of the measure that was recently developed and that we've used in a large military sample with good success: Elgar, Waschbusch, Dadds, & Sigvaldason (2007).
Parent Locus of Control  Scale  Campis, Lyman, & Prentice-Dunn, 1986 Parental efficacy, responsibility, child control of parent's life, parental belief in fate/chance, parental control of child's behavior Parent Self-Report 47 15-25 minutes Free Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Available in the public domain  Strong evidence for reliability and validity  Although originally written with a Yes/No format, commonly used now with a 5-point Likert scale response set.
Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory - Second Edition (AAPI-2) Bavolek, S.J., 1984 Assesses: Innappropriate expectations of children, parental lack of empathy, strong belief in the use of corporal punishment, reversing parent-child roles, oppressing children's power & independence. Adult and teen parent and non-parent  Self-Report 40 20-30 minutes Minimum purchase of 10 administrations: $10 per administration. Cost per admin decreases as number of admin purchased increases.  Familiarity w/administration, scoring guidelines, and interpretation Family Development Resources; Link to online access: Click Here Strong evidence for reliability and validity  5 point likert scale. Used in child abuse literature; no social desirability. Available to complete online or in paper and pencil format. 



Abidin, R. R. (1990). The Parenting Stress Index Short Form: Test Manual. Charlottesville, VA: Pediatric Psychology Press.

Bavolek, S.J. (1984). The Adolescent-Adult Child Parenting Inventory. Asheville, NC.

Campis, L.K., Lyman, R.D., & Prentice-Dunn, S. (1986). The Parental Locus of Control Scale: Development and validation. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 15, 260-7.

Frick, P.J. (1991). The Alabama Parenting Questionnaire. University of Alabama.

Gibaud-Wallston, J., & Wandersman, L. P. (1978). Development and utility of the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale. Paper presented at the 86th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Johnston, C., & Mash, E.J. (1989). A measure of parenting satisfaction and efficacy. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 18, 167-175.

Power, T. G. (2002). Parenting Dimensions Inventory-Short Version (PDI-S): A Research Manual. Washington State University.

Schludermann, S. & Schludermann, E. (1970). Replicability of factors in Children's Report of Parent Behavior (CRPBI). Journal of Psychology, 76, 239–249.

Schludermann, S. (1988). Questionnaire for Children and Youth (CRPBI-30). Winnipeg: Unpublished manuscript, University of Manitoba.

Slater, M. A., & Power, T. G. (1987). Multidimensional assessment of parenting in single-parent families. In J. P. Vincent (Ed.), Advances in family intervention, assessment, and theory (pp. 197-228). Greenwich, CN: JAI Press.

Strayhorn, J. M. & Weidman, C. S. (1988). A Parent Practices Scale and its relation to parent and child mental health. Journal American Academy Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 613-8.

ZERO TO THREE. (1994). Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC:0–3). National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Washington DC.



Treatment Name


Essential Elements

Research Evidence & Outcomes

URL for Additional Information

1-2-3 Magic

Bradley et al. (2003)

Group format, geared to parents with children between the ages of 2-12. Three steps: control negative behavior, encourage good behavior, strengthen relationships.

Parents receiving intervention demonstrated improved parenting practices and reported reduced negative child behaviors compared to a control group.


Lovell & Richey (1997)

Social support skill training (SSST) intervention; training for parents on appropriate use of consequences, positive reinforcement, and ignoring; weekly parent discussion group on child development; daily living skills for parents.  17-session SSST groups on: creation of metaphor for friendship, the Relationships Road Map, strengths and gaps in personal networks, positive and negative indicators of potential network members, and conversational and assertiveness skills.

Participants reported significantly higher proportions of contacts with formal service providers and people from known organizations, and more conversations about finances and fewer about housework than control. Though nonsignificant, participants also reported increases in “quick contacts,” self-initiated interactions, and child-related topics.

Cognitive–ecological preventive intervention


tan Area Child Study Research Group (2002)

Includes a classroom intervention, small group, and family intervention. Geared to children living in inner-city and other urban poor communities

Showed success preventing adolescent aggression at greater rates when intervention included a parenting component.

Family Connections

DePanfilis & DuBowitz (2005)

Community-based intervention that focuses on: emergency assistance/concrete services; home-based family intervention (e.g., family assessment, outcome-driven service plans, individual and family counseling); service coordination with referrals targeted toward risk (e.g., substance abuse treatment) and protective factors (e.g., mentoring program); and multifamily supportive recreational activities.

Positive changes in protective factors (parenting attitudes, parenting competence, and social support); diminished risk factors (depressive symptoms, parenting stress, life stress); improved safety (physical and psychological care of children); and improved behavior (decreased internalizing and externalizing).

Filial therapy

Landreth & Lobaugh (1998)

10-week filial therapy parent training group for incarcerated fathers, utilizes play therapy techniques, teaches parents to take on the therapeutic role.

Helped to increase parents’ attitudes of acceptance and empathic behavior towards their children; reduced stress related to parenting.

Incredible Years

Webster-Stratton & Reid (2003)

Focuses on strengthening the core parenting competencies of monitoring, positive discipline, and confidence. Encourages parental involvement with children’s scholastic experiences. Program divided based on child’s age: 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 4-12 years. Group based, utilizes videos and role playing.

Demonstrated success with parents with a history of child maltreatment, with improvements in parental positive affect; nurturing/supportive parenting practices and discipline competence; and the reduced use of critical statements and commands.

Keys To Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS)

Comfort & Gordon (2006)

Assesses parenting behaviors through observation, including: “sensitivity of responses, supports emotions, physical interaction, involvement in child’s activities, open to child’s agenda, engagement in language experiences, reasonable expectations, adapts strategies to child, limits & consequences, supportive directions, encouragement, promotes exploration & curiosity”

Tested reliably for children ages zero through five; thoroughly tested for validity, reliability; tested with diverse populations. “Parenting outcomes assessed using increase significantly with intervention” (2009).

Multisystemic Therapy


Borduin et al. (1995)

Present-focused and action-oriented. Directly addresses intrapersonal (e.g., cognitive) and systemic (family, peer, school) factors. Individualized and highly flexible to client’s needs. Most sessions held in the family's home at a convenient time or in community locations. Treatment time-limited. Goal is to empower parents to handle challenges themselves.

MST has demonstrated an increase in supportiveness and decrease in conflict-hostility in families. It has also shown decreased

symptomatology in parents (self-report) and decreased behavior problems in youth (parental report). Further, participant youth have a lower rate of recidivism, drug and alcohol use, and peer aggression.

Nurturing Parent Programs

Bavolek (2002)

May be home-based (for children preschool age and below) or group-based. An empowerment-based program, the Nurturing Parent Program teaches parents what to expect from children at each developmental stage, helps parents develop nurturing, nonviolent discipline strategies, and increases effective, nurturing communication.

Parents who demonstrated maladaptive parenting practices prior to this intervention demonstrated nurturing parent attitudes after completion.

Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)


Therapists observe and coach parents during parent-child interactions. Most appropriate for children ages 2-7. Two major components, relationship enhancement to teach parents to decrease negative aspects of their relationship and develop supportive communication; and strategies for compliance to teach effective discipline and child management skills.

Program shown to be effective in reducing child behavior problems and maternal stress and increasing the number of positive parent-child interactions.

Parenting Through Change

Forgatch & DeGarmo (1999)

Series of 14-16 weekly parent group meetings (group size 6-16) in office setting with child care, meals, and transportation provided. Manualized sessions with instruction in non-coercive discipline, contingent encouragement, monitoring, and problem solving. Homework assignments, charts, and parent manual.

Reduced coercive parenting practices, prevented decay in positive parenting, improved effective parenting practices.

PARTNERS Parent Training Groups

Webster-Stratton (1998)

Group format, parents watch video vignettes of positive parenting interactions followed by discussion and teaching of positive discipline strategies.

Evaluated with families involved in Head Start programs, who demonstrated the use of less harsh discipline and an increase in positive parenting following this intervention.

Project 12-Ways

Lutzker & Rice (1984)

Project 12-Ways uses behavioral methods and focuses on various targets in the ecology of multi-problem families entering the system for child neglect. Parents are taught skills in safety, bonding, and health care.

Improved assertion skills, job skills, and home management

Project Safe Care

Taban & Lutzker (2001)

15-session training program focused on home safety, infant and child health care, and bonding and stimulation. Interventions included verbal instructions, discussions, reading materials, modeling, role-play and practice, and feedback administered via research assistants, videotapes, and, in few cases, a nurse or a caseworker.

Parents felt more confident about their knowledge and ability regarding their children's health and safety.  Showed improvement in their interaction with their children, and reported enjoying being with their children more.

Project SelfCare

Fraser, Armstrong, Morris, & Dadds (2000)

Project SelfCare uses a treatment team of pediatricians, nurses, and social workers to encourage utilization of community services.  Promotes social support systems and informal resources, and enhances skills and confidence to access resources. Services guided by individual need and offered in home.

Showed a relationship between maternal, family and environmental factors in the immediate postnatal period and adjustment to the parenting role.

Relational Psychotherapy Mother’s Group/ Enhanced Behavioral Family Intervention (EBFI)

Sanders et al. (2004)

Enhanced group behavioral family intervention focuses on parents' negative attributions regarding their child's and their own behavior, and parents' anger-control deficits. Parent workbook, and sessions to teach 17 core child-management strategies, Planned Activities Training; plus 4 sessions addressing risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect. Parents were also taught anger management techniques, and cognitive techniques that challenged their attributions.

Control and EBFI showed reduced dysfunctional attributions, with EBFI showing a significantly greater reduction in the potential for child abuse and unrealistic expectations. Both groups showed decreased anger experience and expression. EBFI showed a significantly greater reduction in negative attributions than control.

STAR Parenting Program

Nicholson, Anderson, Fox & Brenner (2002)

STAR strategy (Stop, Think, Ask, Respond) utilizes cognitive behavioral and anger management techniques to help parents develop a more “thoughtful” parenting style.

Research indicates decreased levels of verbal and corporal punishment, anger, stress, and child behavior problems following this intervention.

Steps Towards Effective Enjoyable Parenting (STEEP)

Egeland & Erickson Farrell


Rooted in attachment theory and the ecological perspective, STEEP uses home visits, small group format, and videotaped interaction and review, with goal of teaching parents about child development and problem solving to increase positive parenting. Developed for use with parents of young children.

Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) Program

Wilczak & Markstrom (1999)

Utilizes a parent study group format to educate parents regarding child development. Teaches parents the four goals of misbehavior (attention, power, revenge, inadequacy) and how to develop effective discipline that is firm and kind.

Increased fathers’ knowledge about effective parenting practices and feelings of efficacy as parents

Triple P-Positive Parenting Program

Sanders et al. (2004)

Behavioral based parenting intervention provided at the individual level, group level, or in a self-directed format. Provides parents with tip sheets on child development for each age group and promotes self-efficacy, self-management, and problem solving skills.

Evaluation research demonstrates a reduction in children’s disruptive behaviors and dysfunctional parenting practices.