Laura Kay Murray
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Self-Control Training in Young Children
Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua, Chair
Dr. Scott H. Kollins
Dr. Galen Alessi
Dr. Alan Poling
Dr. Jori Reijonen
Date: Monday, March 18, 2002 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
2704 Wood Hall
The incidence of
conduct and behavioral disorders is steadily on the rise. Externalizing
problems in the preschool years are considerable predictors of problems
in later childhood, and even adulthood. There is a growing need for
effective prevention programs with young children that are based in
school environments. Prevention efforts with young children often focus
on self-control training or the reduction of impulsive behaviors. Impulsivity
is an early presenting behavior pattern that can lead to numerous and
varied problems and disorders. One therapeutic intervention for treating
poorly self-controlled children uses a combination of cognitive and
behavioral techniques. Independent studies and a number of literature
reviews have been conducted to examine the overall effectiveness of
various cognitive-behavioral techniques in increasing self-control,
showing mixed results. The present study had two goals: (1) to measure
the effectiveness of a combination of both cognitive and behavioral
treatment techniques to train self-control in preschoolers and (2) to
use both cognitive and behavioral outcome measures, to demonstrate where
the changes (if any) would be most clearly seen in a preschool population.
Thirty-one 4-year-old children in a preschool program for "at-risk"
children were randomly assigned to treatment or control group. The treatment
group received a five-week self-control training using cognitive and
behavioral techniques. Evaluation of outcome occurred at pre- and post-intervention.
Dependent measures included classroom behavior observations, Conners'
Rating Scales (CPRS, CTRS), Self-Control Rating Scale (SCRS), MFFT,
and a waiting task. Results showed significant improvement of treatment
group on the waiting task, the CPRS, and the SCRS-teacher report. Many
outcome measures demonstrated improvement across both treatment and
control groups, but did not reach statistical significance. It was concluded
that a cognitive-behavioral intervention has some positive impact on
preschool children. The results are discussed within the context of
methodological limitations of the study which serve as proposals for
continued research in this area.
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