STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) is a multicomponent parenting education curriculum. The STEP program helps parents learn effective ways to relate to their children from birth through adolescence by using parent education study groups.
By identifying the purposes of children’s behavior, STEP also helps parents learn how to encourage cooperative behavior in their children and how not to reinforce unacceptable behaviors.
STEP also helps parents change dysfunctional and destructive relationships with their children by offering concrete alternatives to abusive and ineffective methods of discipline and control.
The goals of STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) are:
- Increased ability to identify goals of misbehavior
- Increased alternatives to misbehaviors
- Increased encouragement skills
- Increased skill in communication
- Increased skill in cooperation (parental and child)
- Increased skill in discipline
- Increased skill in choosing parenting approach
- Increase child self-esteem and confidence
- Decreased inappropriate parental behaviors in disciplining children and teens
Although STEP was designed for use with parents facing typical parenting challenges, all the studies indicate the program worksd well for families with an abusive parent, families at risk for parenting problems and child maltreatment, or families with a child receiving mental health treatment.
STEP is presented in a group format, with optimal group sizes ranging from 6 to 14 parents. The program is typically taught in seven weekly, 1.5-hour study groups facilitated by a counselor, social worker, or individual who has participated in a STEP workshop.
STEP features a leader who teaches lessons to parents on how to understand child behavior and misbehavior, practice positive listening, give encouragement (rather than praise), explore alternative parenting behaviors and express ideas and feelings, develop their child’s responsibilities, apply natural and logical consequences, convene family meetings, and develop their child’s confidence.
Parents engage in role-plays, exercises, discussions of hypothetical parenting situations, and the sharing of personal experiences. Videos demonstrate the concepts covered each week with examples of ineffective and effective parent-child interactions.