Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 732–743 | Cite as

Evaluating a Self-Determination Theory-Based Preventive Parenting Consultation: The Parent Check-In

  • Elizabeth S. AllenEmail author
  • Wendy S. Grolnick
  • James V. Córdova
Original Paper



Parent training is the treatment of choice for many childhood problems; yet there are notable gaps among available treatments related to access, content, and target age-range. This study examined the feasibility and initial effects of the Parent Check-In, a two-session preventive intervention based on Self-Determination Theory. The intervention was designed to enhance parents’ motivation and promote parenting skills on dimensions of autonomy support, structure, and involvement.


Twenty-eight parents (27 mothers, 3 fathers, 2 participating as couples) of elementary school-age children (ages 8–12) participated in a pilot study with an intervention/waitlist control design.


Results revealed that the Parent Check-In attracted parents from a range of families in varying degrees of distress, including several first-time treatment-seekers. Relative to a waitlist control group (n = 8), participants who received the Parent Check-In (n = 20) showed significantly greater increases in parental internal locus of control, autonomy support, and structure provision at a two-week follow-up. Effect sizes were moderate to large. Both groups showed improvements in parent involvement. Intervention effects on parenting stress and sense of efficacy were not significant.


Preliminary evidence supports the efficacy of the Parent Check-In. Future directions for the development and validation of the intervention are discussed.


Parenting skills training Self-Determination Theory Autonomy support Preventive intervention Motivation 


Author Contributions

E.S.A. collaborated on the design and execution of the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper. W.S.G. collaborated on the design and execution of the study and contributed to the writing of the paper. J.V.C. Collaborated on the design of the study and contributed to editing the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (approval provided by Clark University) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Weill Cornell MedicineNew York Presbyterian Hospital-Westchester DivisionWhite PlainsUSA
  2. 2.Clark UniversityWorcesterUSA

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