Common Sense Parenting (CSP)

Scientific Rating:
2
Supported by Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
Medium
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Common Sense Parenting (CSP) has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Parent Training Programs that Address Behavior Problems in Children and Adolescents.

Target Population: Parents and other caregivers of children ages 6 - 16 years

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 6 – 16

Brief Description

Common Sense ParentingSM (CSP) is a group-based class for parents comprised of 6 weekly, 2-hour sessions led by a credentialed trainer who focuses on teaching practical skills to increase children’s positive behavior, decrease negative behavior, and model appropriate alternative behavior. Each class is formatted to include a review of the prior session, instruction of the new skill, modeled examples, skill practice/feedback, and a summary.

Program Goals:

The goals of Common Sense Parenting (CSP) are:

  • Equip parents with a logical method for changing their children's behaviors through teaching positive behaviors, social skills, and methods to reduce stress in crisis situations
  • Provide parents with practical strategies for enhancing parent-child communication and building robust family relationships

Essential Components

The essential components of Common Sense Parenting (CSP) include:

  • A group/class format with a recommended size of 8-10 parents per group
  • A class curriculum that is formatted to include a review of the prior session including homework, instruction of the new skill, modeled examples, skill practice/feedback, and a summary.
  • Course components that are organized as follows:
    • Session 1 – Parents are Teachers
      • Effective discipline
      • Describing children’s behaviors
      • Using consequences to change behaviors
    • Session 2 – Encouraging Good Behavior
      • Giving kids reasons
      • Using Effective Praise to increase positive behaviors
    • Session 3 – Preventing Problems
      • Teaching social skills to children
      • Using Preventive Teaching to set children up for success
    • Session 4 – Correcting Problem Behavior
      • Staying calm
      • Using Corrective Teaching to stop problem behaviors and teach alternative behaviors
    • Session 5 – Teaching Self-Control
      • Safe home plans
      • Using Teaching Self-Control when children are not cooperating or are having an emotional outburst
    • Session 6 – Putting it all Together
      • Holding family meetings
      • Establishing family routines and traditions
      • Developing a parenting plan for using all the CSP skills

Parent/Caregiver Services

Common Sense Parenting (CSP) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parenting challenges, especially with youth who have behavior problems

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community Agency
  • Community Daily Living Settings
  • Hospital
  • School

Homework

Common Sense Parenting (CSP) includes a homework component:

Parents receive homework at each session in the form of activity worksheets, which help them practice and think about the concepts learned in class. They are instructed to remember examples of their attempts to practice the skills at home. Both the worksheets and personal examples are reviewed at the next session.

Languages

Common Sense Parenting (CSP) has materials available in languages other than English:

Hindi, Japanese, Russian, Spanish

For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Audio/Visual equipment (TV and VCR or DVD player)
  • Credentialed trainers and program materials
  • Enough space for 8 - 10 parents to meet with the trainer
  • Wheelchair accessible entrance
  • On-call contract support for hearing impaired parents

Minimum Provider Qualifications

A high school diploma is acceptable but a Bachelor's degree is preferred. Boys Town staff must complete initial training (24 hours), continuing education courses (6 hours for the first credentialing), and also must meet model fidelity criteria based on class observations and objective ratings on the model fidelity instrument. After credentialing, local contract trainers are also encouraged to participate in yearly in-service training, questionnaires, and reviews to maintain their skills.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program, and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

Training is provided by the Training, Evaluation, & Certification department at the Boys Town Home Campus located in Boys Town, Nebraska. Staff from other Boys Town sites, such as Boys Town California, receive their training at Home Campus in Nebraska.

Four training methods are used to ensure that the program is implemented as designed:

  • First, extensive training sessions for trainers (i.e., interventionists/workshop leaders) emphasizes (a) instruction in effective skills and practices, (b) demonstration of effective skills and practices, (c) practice with parenting skills, (d) feedback on practice efforts and training processes, and (e) ongoing coaching by Boys Town staff.
  • Second, interventionists work through the program's training package, which includes a parent's book, a trainer's manual, and a 55-minute DVD with 85 vignettes that model correct and incorrect ways of using the skills.
  • Third, all interventionists complete a three-day training program related to implementation of the program.
  • Fourth, program replication efforts include training in the use of program fidelity assessments.
Number of days/hours:

3-day training program (approximately 24 hours)

Additional Resources:

There currently are additional qualified resources for training:

For Common Sense Parenting materials, including books and DVDs, contact:

Implementation Information

Since Common Sense Parenting (CSP) is rated on the Scientific Rating Scale, information was requested from the program representative on available pre-implementation assessments, implementation tools, and/or fidelity measures.

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Pre-Implementation Materials

There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Common Sense Parenting (CSP).

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Common Sense Parenting (CSP) as listed below:

Formal Support is available through Boys Town National Community Support Services (BTNCSS). Contact Ronald W. Thompson, PhD, Senior Director, at Ronald.thompson@boystown.org or (402) 498-1254 for more information.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Common Sense Parenting (CSP) as listed below:

There are objectively rated observation tools that serve as fidelity tools.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Common Sense Parenting (CSP) as listed below:

There is a trainer’s manual. Contact Laura Buddenburg of Boys Town via email at Laura.Buddenberg@boystown.org or (402) 498-1899 for more information, or check online at www.parenting.org/common-sense-parenting/workshops.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has been conducted on how to implement Common Sense Parenting (CSP) as listed below:

  • Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Thompson, R. W., Haggerty, K. P., & Snyder, J. J. (2014). A framework for testing and promoting expanded dissemination of promising preventive interventions that are being implemented in community settings. Prevention Science, 15(5), 674-683. doi:10.1007/s11121-013-0409-3
  • Oats, R. G., Cross, W. F., Alex Mason, W., Casey-Goldstein, M., Thompson, R. W., Hanson, K., & Haggerty, K. P. (2014). Implementation assessment of widely used but understudied prevention programs: An illustration from the Common Sense Parenting trial. Evaluation and Program Planning, 44, 89-97.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program is rated a "2 - Supported by Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The program must have at least one rigorous randomized controlled trial with a sustained effect of at least 6 months. The article(s) below that reports outcomes from an RCT showing a sustained effect of at least 6 months has an asterisk (*) at the beginning of its entry. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Show relevant research...

Thompson, R. W., Grow, C. R., Ruma, P. R., Daly, D. L., & Burke, R. V. (1993). Evaluation of a practical parenting program with middle and low-income families. Family Relations, 42, 21–25.

Type of Study: Within-group pretest/posttest design
Number of Participants: 34

Population:

  • Age — Parents: Not Specified; Children: Low-income group - Mean=8.8 years, Middle-income group - Mean=9.5 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: Low-income group - 90% Caucasian and 10% Oriental, Middle-income group: 84% Caucasian and 16% Black; Children: Not specified
  • Gender — Parents: Low-income group - 90% Female and 10% Male, Middle-income group - 75% Female and 25% Male; Children: Low-income group - 70% Male and 30% Female, Middle-income group: 54% Female and 46% Male
  • Status — Participants were referred by an outside agency, self-referred, or referred by a friend.

Location/Institution: Not Specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study evaluated the effectiveness of a program to teach practical child management skills to parents, Common Sense Parenting (CSP). Families were categorized as low-income (with income below poverty thresholds, based on the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990) or middle-income. Measures used included the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI), the Parent Attitude Test (PAT), and the Problem-Solving Inventory. Results showed that, for both low-income and middle-income families, parental reports of child behavior problems, parent attitudes, and parent problem-solving skills improved significantly from before parent training to after with the CSP program. There were no significant changes from immediately after parent training to the 3-month follow-up, though problem frequency scores for children from low-income families moved from clinical to normal ranges after training and maintained there at the 3-month follow-up, and problem frequency scores for children from middle-income families were in the normal range at all 3 time periods. Limitations include the study’s small sample size and lack of a control group.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 months.

Thompson, R. W., Ruma, P. R., Schuchmann, L. F., & Burke, R. V. (1996). A cost-effectiveness evaluation of parent training. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 5, 415-429.

Type of Study: Quasi-experimental design
Number of Participants: 66 parents

Population:

  • Age — Parents: 32-35 years; Children: 2-17 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: 64 Caucasian and 2 Unspecified, Children: Not specified
  • Gender — Parents: 57 Female and 9 Male, Children: 42 Male and 24 Female
  • Status — Participants requested or were referred to Common Sense Parenting (CSP).

Location/Institution: 3 Midwestern communities

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examined the effectiveness of a cost-reduced version of Common Sense Parenting (CSP) , which was reduced from 8 weeks to 6 weeks. Thirty-nine parents were assigned to the parent training (PT) condition/CSP condition, based strictly on availability. As classes became full in each of the 3 Midwestern community locations, parents were placed in the wait list control (WLC) condition. Measures used included the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), the Parent Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC), and the Family Satisfaction Scale (FSS). Results showed that parents who completed CSP training reported more improvement in externalizing child problems, such as delinquent and aggressive behavior, and more satisfaction and efficacy as a parent, when compared with the WLC group. These effects were maintained at 3 months posttreatment. There were no statistically significant treatment effects found, however, for internalizing problem behavior, such as depression or anxiety, or for clinical recovery rates for children in the clinical range. Limitations of the study include the lack of complete randomization and control, as well as the homogeneity of an almost entirely Caucasian sample.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 months.

Ruma, P. R., Burke, R. V., & Thompson, R. W. (1996). Group parent training: Is it effective for children of all ages? Behavior Therapy, 27, 159–169.

Type of Study: Within-group pretest/posttest design
Number of Participants: 206

Population:

  • Age — Parents: 27-38 years; Children: 2-16 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Parents: Not Specified, Children: 67% Male and 33% Female
  • Status — Participants were involved in the child welfare system.

Location/Institution: Orlando, FL; Omaha, NE; San Antonio, TX

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This article examined archival data from mothers who attended group parent training, Common Sense Parenting (CSP). At each site, to compare group parent training outcomes, groups were divided into three groups according to age: early childhood (2-5 years), middle childhood (6-11 years), and adolescence (12-16 years). Measures utilized include the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Resulting scores indicated that all CSP groups showed improvement in behavioral problems, but at different rates, suggesting a possible age effect on outcome; the middle childhood group demonstrated the most clinically significant gains. Limitations include the lack of a control group and the use of only one measure, especially one with the potential for self-report biasing.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Thompson, R. W., Ruma, P. R., Brewster, A. L., Besetsney, L. K., & Burke, R. V. (1997). Evaluation of an Air Force child physical abuse prevention project using the reliable change index. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 6(4), 421–434.

Type of Study: Within-group pretest/posttest design
Number of Participants: 379

Population:

  • Age — Parents: Mean=33.06 years, Children: Mean=7.88 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: 73% White, 13% African American, 9% Hispanic, and 5% Other, Children: Not Specified
  • Gender — Parents: 62% Female and 38% Male, Children: 58% Male and 42% Female
  • Status — Participants were active duty or civilian employee parents and their spouses who attended Common Sense Parenting (CSP) classes at 25 Air Force bases in the continental United States (CONUS) and overseas (OCONUS). Most were self-referred, active duty parents who had no prior history of abuse. The most frequently cited reason for enrolling in parent training was parent-child conflict.

Location/Institution: 25 Air Force bases in the continental United States (CONUS) and overseas (OCONUS)

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This article examined the effectiveness of the Common Sense Parenting (CSP) on preventing the development of coercive parent-child interaction. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess child behavior problems, the Family Satisfaction Scale (FSS) was used to measure overall satisfaction with family relationships, and the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAP) was used to evaluate parents’ potential to engage in physical abuse. Parents reported significant reductions in child behavior problems for both internalizing and externalizing behaviors, as well as in total number of reported behavior problems. Additionally, there was a significant decrease in parents’ risk for child physical abuse and an increase in their satisfaction with family relationships. Pre-post improvements were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Limitations include the lack of a control group, the self-report nature of the measures, and the fact that follow-up data were available for only about 10% of the participants with pre-post data.

Length of postintervention follow-up: < 6 months (Number of sessions completed varied from parent to parent).

Griffith, A. K. (2010). The use of a behavioral parent training program for parents of adolescents. Journal of At-Risk Issues, 15(2), 1-8.

Type of Study: Within-group pretest/posttest design
Number of Participants: 42

Population:

  • Age — Not Specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified
  • Gender — Not Specified
  • Status — Participants included parents of adolescents aged 12-16 years who sought out the program on their own or were referred through child welfare, juvenile justice, local pediatric clinics, and local school districts.

Location/Institution: Not Specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examined the effectiveness of a 6-session behavioral parent training program – Common Sense Parenting (CSP) – with parents of adolescents. Measures included the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), which assesses problem behaviors in children/adolescents, and the Parenting Stress Inventory-Short Form (PSI-SF), which measures relative stress within the parent-child relationship. Results showed a significant decrease from pretest to posttest in scores for both subscales of the CBCL, Rule-breaking and Aggressive, as well as the Externalizing behaviors score. Additionally, scores on both PSI-SF subscales, Parent Distress and Parent Child Dysfunctional Interaction, decreased significantly from pretest to posttest. Limitations include the small sample size, lack of a control group, and lack of post-treatment follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Ringle, J. L., Thompson, R. W., Haggerty, K. P., & Snyder-Griffith, J. J. (2015). Reducing risks for problem behaviors during the high school transition: Proximal outcomes in the Common Sense Parenting trial. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 2568–2578.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 321 families

Population:

  • Age — Parents: Mean=40 years, Adolescents: Mean=13 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: 48% Caucasian/White, 26% African American, 9% Hispanic/Latino, 4% Asian American, 4% Pacific Islander, 2% Native American, and 7% Mixed or Other; Adolescents: Not specified
  • Gender — Parents: 83% Female, Youth: 53% Female
  • Status — Participants were parents and children recruited from 8th grade junior high school.

Location/Institution: Tacoma, Washington

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study tests Common Sense Parenting (CSP), in its standard form and in a modified form known as CSP Plus, with low-income 8th graders and their families during the high school transition. The six-session CSP program proximally targets parenting and child emotion regulation skills. CSP Plus adds two sessions that include youth, and the eight-session program further targets skills for avoiding negative peers and activities in high school. Participants were enrolled and randomly assigned to CSP, CSP Plus, or minimal-contact control conditions. Measures included the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (APQ) and the Social Competence Scale-Parent (PCOMP-P). Results showed CSP and CSP Plus had statistically significant effects on increased parent-reported child emotion regulation skills. CSP Plus further showed a statistically significant effect on increased parent perceptions of their adolescent being prepared for high school, but only in a model that excluded the CSP condition. Neither program had a significant proximal effect on parenting practices. Additionally, CSP Plus showed some limited signs of added value for preparing families for the high school transition. Limitations include reliability on self-reported measures, statistically significant intervention effect sizes were not large in magnitude, and length of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: Approximately 6 months.

Fleming, C. B., Mason, W. A., Thompson, R. W., Haggerty, K. P., & Gross, T. J. (2015). Child and parent report of parenting as predictors of substance use and suspensions from school. The Journal of Early Adolescence. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0272431615574886.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 321 families

Population:

  • Age — Parents: Mean=40 years, Adolescents: Mean=13 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: 48% Caucasian/White, 26% African American, 9% Hispanic/Latino, 4% Asian American, 4% Pacific Islander, 2% Native American, and 7% Mixed or Other; Adolescents: Not specified
  • Gender — Parents: 83% Female, Youth: 53% Female
  • Status — Participants were parents and children recruited from 8th grade junior high school.

Location/Institution: Tacoma, Washington

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The current study uses information from Fleming, Mason, Thompson, et al. (2015) on an urban sample of eighth graders to examine how child- and parent-report measures of parenting are related to substance use and suspensions. The study utilized Common Sense Parenting (CSP) to examine how child and parent reports of parenting were related to early adolescent substance use and school suspensions. Participants were enrolled and randomly assigned to CSP, CSP Plus, or minimal-contact control conditions. Measures included the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (APQ) and the Social Competence Scale-Parent (PCOMP-P). Results showed relationships between measures of parenting and adolescent problem behavior outcomes are not uniform across reporters or across behaviors, and that, in some cases, the discrepancies between child and parent report may be important. Both parent and child report of overall better family management practices had unadjusted associations with less substance use, but only child-report predicted substance use when both measures were considered together and use at baseline was controlled. Limitations include reliability on self-reported measures, generality of the findings is limited by the community sample taking part in an evaluation of a preventive intervention, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Fleming, C. B., Mason, W. A., Haggerty, K. P., Thompson, R. W., Fernandez, K., Casey-Goldstein, M., & Oats, R. G. (2015). Predictors of participation in parenting workshops for improving adolescent behavioral and mental health: Results from the Common Sense Parenting trial. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 36(2), 105-118.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 321 families

Population:

  • Age — Parents: Mean=40 years, Adolescents: Mean=13 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: 48% Caucasian/White, 26% African American, 9% Hispanic/Latino, 4% Asian American, 4% Pacific Islander, 2% Native American, and 7% Mixed or other; Adolescents: Not specified
  • Gender — Parents: 83% Female, Youth: 53% Female
  • Status — Participants were parents and children recruited from 8th grade junior high school.

Location/Institution: Tacoma, Washington

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The current study uses information from Fleming, Mason, Thompson, et al. (2015) on an urban sample of eighth graders to examine how child- and parent-report measures of parenting are related to substance use and suspensions. The study utilized Common Sense Parenting (CSP) to examine predictors of engagement and retention in a group-based family intervention across two versions of the program. Participants were enrolled and randomly assigned to CSP, CSP Plus, or minimal-contact control conditions. Measures included the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (APQ) and the Social Competence Scale-Parent (PCOMP-P). Results indicate that an adapted version of CSP that included child attendance at some workshops resulted in higher engagement and similar retention compared to the standard version of CSP that did not ask for child attendance. There was no support for the concern that asking children of parents to attend workshops might decrease engagement. Limitations include reliability on self-reported measures, generality of the findings is limited by the community sample taking part in an evaluation of a preventive intervention, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Mason, W. A., January, S. A. A., Fleming, C. B., Thompson, R. W., Parra, G. R., Haggerty, K. P., & Snyder, J. J. (2016). Parent training to reduce problem behaviors over the transition to high school: Tests of indirect effects through improved emotion regulation skills. Children and Youth Services Review, 61, 176-183.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 321 families

Population:

  • Age — Adolescents: Mean=13 years, Parents: Mean=40 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Adolescents: Not specified; Parents: 48% Caucasian/White, 26% African American, 9% Hispanic/Latino, 4% Asian American, 4% Pacific Islander, 2% Native American, and 7% Mixed or Other
  • Gender — Adolescents: 53% Female, Parents: 83% Female
  • Status — Participants were parents and children recruited from 8th grade junior high school.

Location/Institution: Tacoma, Washington

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The current study uses information from Fleming, Mason, Thompson, et al. (2015) on an urban sample of eighth graders to examine how child- and parent-report measures of parenting are related to substance use and suspensions. The study utilized Common Sense Parenting (CSP) to examine reduced substance use, conduct problems, and school suspensions through previously identified short-term improvements in parents' reports of their children's emotion regulation skills. Participants were enrolled and randomly assigned to CSP, CSP Plus, or minimal-contact control conditions. Measures included the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Social Competence Scale-Parent (PCOMP-P). When compared to the control group, no direct effects of CSP on adolescent problem behaviors were found at 1-year and 2-year follow-ups and no direct effects of CSP on parenting were found at posttreatment, 1-year, and 2 year follow-ups. CSP did have statistically significant indirect effects on reduced substance use (1-year follow-up), conduct problems (2-year follow-up), and school suspensions (1-year and 2-year follow-up) through improved parent-reported child emotion regulation skills at posttest. Limitations include reliance on self-reported measures, generalizability of the findings is limited by the community sample taking part in an evaluation of a preventive intervention, and intervention condition families were offered an incentive to participate in the program.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 1 and 2 years.

References

Burke, R., Herron, R., & Barnes, B. A. (2006). Common Sense Parenting®, 3rd edition. Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home: Boys Town, NE, USA.

Burke, R., Schuchmann, L. F., & Barnes, B. A. (2006). Common Sense Parenting® Trainer Guide, 3rd edition. Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home: Boys Town, NE, USA.

Contact Information

Name: Ronald W. Thompson, PhD
Agency/Affiliation: Boys Town National Research Institution
Website: www.boystown.org/locations/nebraska/common-sense-parenting
Email:
Phone: (402) 498-1254
Fax: (402) 498-1315

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2017

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: May 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2010