Psychometric Evaluation of a Brief Assessment of Parents’ Disciplinary Alternatives

  • Christina M. RodriguezEmail author
  • Shannon M. O. Wittig
  • Maria-Ernestina Christl
Original Paper



The majority of strategies designed to assess parental discipline practices typically focus on ineffective or adverse discipline options. When more comprehensive measures are utilized, parents are often expressly asked to report their use of nonphysical discipline options but such an approach signals to parents that they should report implementing such choices, thereby rendering it susceptible to social desirability.


Rather than cueing parents with possible discipline options, the Production of Discipline Alternatives (PDA) is a very brief parent-report coding scheme of the discipline options parents freely generate to an open-ended question after reading a short vignette. The current study investigated the inter-rater reliability and stability as well as concurrent and predictive validity from the coding of this brief qualitative prompt using three waves of longitudinal data collected from mothers and fathers (prenatally, child age 6 months, and child age 18 months).


Findings demonstrated strong inter-rater reliability (between independent coders) and stability of discipline alternatives provided by parents across nearly two years. Concurrent and predictive validity were also observed; specifically, mothers and fathers who generated proportionally more physical discipline options were more likely to approve of physical discipline, to be inclined to punish perceived misbehavior, to prefer authoritarian parenting approaches, to evidence greater child abuse risk, and to report more frequent use of physical discipline.


The current findings imply the PDA may have research utility as well as potential value in screenings at primary and integrated care settings relevant for prevention and intervention efforts.


Discipline tactics Primary care screening Child abuse prevention Physical punishment Nonviolent discipline Corporal Punishment 



We thank our participating families and participating Obstetrics/Gynecology clinics that facilitated recruitment. This research was supported by award number R15HD071431 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.

Author Contributions

CR designed the procedure, analyzed the data, and led the writing of the paper; SMOW and MC jointly coded the data and contributed to writing the methods and results.

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 Review Board of the University of Alabama at Birmingham 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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.University of DenverDenverUSA

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