Tools for Treating Behavior Problems in Young Latino Children

  • Robert A. Fox
  • Lauryn A. Besasie
  • Michael P. Fung


Behavior problems in very young children including aggression, property destruction, self-injury, hyperactivity, and noncompliance are common. Research has shown that 50% of children with moderate behavior problems, without intervention, will continue to have behavioral difficulties well into their school years when they are more intractable to treat. Consequently, early intervention is necessary, and providing evidence-based programs tailored to treat such issues in very young children is important. This is especially true for a diverse population of children living in poverty, including Latino children, where early behavior problems are even more prevalent. This chapter describes the Early Pathways Program, a culturally adapted, home-based mental health program for young children with behavior problems. Eight in-home sessions are included to help parents better understand and manage their young children’s behavior problems. This chapter also includes measures to assess program outcomes and several parent handouts in Spanish that are used throughout the intervention.


Behavior problems Young Latino children Poverty Parent-child therapy 

Supplementary material


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. doi: 10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Antshel, K. M. (2002). Integrating culture as a means of improving treatment adherence in the Latino population. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 7(4), 435–449. doi: 10.1080/1354850021000015258 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arcia, E., Reyes-Blanes, M. E., & Vazquez-Montilla, E. (2000). Constructions and reconstructions: Latino parents’ values for children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 9, 333–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ayón, C., Marsiglia, F. F., & Bermudez-Parsai, M. (2010). Latino family mental health: Exploring the role of discrimination and familismo. Journal of Community Psychology, 38(6), 742–756.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Bandy, T., & Moore, K. A. (2011). What works for Latino/Hispanic children and adolescents: Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions. Fact Sheet. Publication# 2011-05. Child Trends. Retrieved from
  6. Barbarin, O. A. (2007). Mental health screening of preschool children: Validity and reliability of ABLE. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(3), 402. doi: 10.1023/A:1026444507343 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Barker, C. H., Cook, K. L., & Borrego, J., Jr. (2010). Addressing cultural variables in parent training programs with Latino families. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 17, 157–166. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpra.2010.01.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berlin, L. J., Ispa, J. M., Fine, M. A., Malone, P. S., Brooks-Gunn, J., Brady-Smith, C., … Bai, Y. (2009). Correlates and consequences of spanking and verbal punishment for low-income white, African American, and Mexican American toddlers. Child Development, 80(5), 1403–1420. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01341.x CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Calzada, E. J., Fernandez, Y., & Cortes, D. E. (2010). Incorporating the cultural value of respeto into a framework of Latino parenting. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16(1), 77–86. doi: 10.1037/a0016071 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Carbonneau, R., Boivin, M., Brendgen, M., Nagin, D., & Tremblay, R. E. (2015). Comorbid development of disruptive behaviors from age 1½ to 5 years in a population birth-cohort and association with school adjustment in first grade. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 1–14. doi: 10.1007/s10802-015-0072-1
  11. Castillo, L. G., Perez, F. V., Castillo, R., & Ghosheh, M. R. (2010). Construction and initial validation of the marianismo beliefs scale. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 23(2), 163–175. doi: 10.1080/09515071003776036 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crijnen, A. A., Achenbach, T. M., & Verhulst, F. C. (1997). Comparisons of problems reported by parents of children in 12 cultures: Total problems, externalizing, and internalizing. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(9), 1269–1277. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199709000-00020 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Donlan, W. (2011). The meaning of community-based care for frail Mexican American elders. International Social Work, 54(3), 388–403. doi: 10.1177/0020872810396258 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fearon, R. P., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van IJzendoorn, M. H., Lapsley, A. M., & Roisman, G. I. (2010). The significance of insecure attachment and disorganization in the development of children’s externalizing behavior: A meta-analytic study. Child Development, 81(2), 435–456.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Fomby, P., & Estacion, A. (2011). Cohabitation and Children's externalizing behavior in low-income Latino families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73(1), 46–66. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01405.x CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Fox, R. A., & Holtz, C. A. (2009). Treatment outcomes for toddlers with behavior problems from families in poverty. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 14, 183–189. doi:  10.1111/j.1475-3588.2009.00527.x
  17. Fung, M. P., & Fox, R. A. (2014). The culturally-adapted early pathways program for young Latino children in poverty: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 2(3), 131. doi: 10.1037/lat0000019 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fung, M. P., Fox, R. A., & Harris, S. E. (2014). Treatment outcomes for at-risk young children with behavior problems: Toward a new definition of success. Journal of Social Service Research, 40(5), 623–641. doi: 10.1080/01488376.2014.915283 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gershoff, E. T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new metaanalyses. Journal of Family Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:101037/e591882013-001Google Scholar
  20. Glass, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Latino fathers: The relationship among machismo, acculturation, ethnic identity, and paternal involvement. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 11(4), 251–261. doi: 10.1037/a0021477 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goodman, S. H., Rouse, M. H., Connell, A. M., Broth, M. R., Hall, C. M., & Heyward, D. (2011). Maternal depression and child psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14(1), 1–27. doi: 10.1007/s10567-010-0080-1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Kazdin, A. E. (2008). Evidence-based treatments and delivery of psychological services: Shifting our emphases to increase impact. Psychological Services, 5(3), 201. doi: 10.1037/a0012573 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kendall-Taylor, N., & Mikulak, A. (2009). Child mental health: A review of the scientific discourse. Washington, DC: FrameWorks Institute. Retrieved from:
  24. Kouider, E. B., Koglin, U., & Petermann, F. (2014). Emotional and behavioral problems in migrant children and adolescents in American countries: A systematic review. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 23(6), 373–391. doi: 10.1007/s00787-013-0485-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leidy, M. S., Guerra, N. G., & Toro, R. I. (2012). Positive parenting, family cohesion, and child social competence among immigrant Latino families. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 252–260. doi: 10.1037/a0019407 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mattek, R. J., Harris, S. E., & Fox, R. A. (2016). Predicting treatment success in child and parent therapy among families in poverty. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 177(2), 44–54. doi: 10.1080/00221325.2016.1147415 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. McCabe, K., & Yeh, M. (2009). Parent–child interaction therapy for Mexican Americans: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 38(5), 753–759. doi: 10.1080/15374410903103544 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mejia, A., Calam, R., & Sanders, M. R. (2015). A pilot randomized controlled trial of a brief parenting intervention in low-resource settings in Panama. Prevention Science, 16(5), 707–717. doi: 10.1007/s11121-015-0551-1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Odgers, C. L., Caspi, A., Broadbent, J. M., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., ... & Moffitt, T. E. (2007). Prediction of differential adult health burden by conduct problem subtypes in males. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(4), 476–484. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.64.4.476
  30. Parish, S., Magana, S., Rose, R., Timberlake, M., & Swaine, J. G. (2012). Health Care of Latino Children with autism and other developmental disabilities: Quality of provider interaction mediates utilization. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117(4), 304–315. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-117.4.304 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Perez, M. E., & Fox, R. A. (2008). Parenting Latino toddlers and preschoolers: Clinical and nonclinical samples. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 30(4), 481–499. doi: 10.1177/0739986308324791 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rocha-Sanchez, T., & Diaz-Loving, R. (2005). Cultura de genero: La brecha ideología entre hombres y mujeres [culture of gender: The ideological divide between men and women]. Anales de Psicologia, 21, 42–49. doi: 10.1016/S2007-4719(14)70394-1 Google Scholar
  33. Rubin, K. H., Burgess, K. B., Dwyer, K. M., & Hastings, P. D. (2003). Predicting preschoolers’ externalizing behaviors from toddler temperament, conflict, and maternal negativity. Developmental Psychology, 39(1), 164. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.39.1.164 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Santiago, C. D., & Wadsworth, M. E. (2011). Family and cultural influences on low-income Latino Children's adjustment. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40(2), 332–337.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Santisteban, D. A., Muir-Malcolm, J. A., Mitrani, V. B., & Szapocznik, J. (2002). Integrating the study of ethnic culture and family psychology intervention science. In H. Liddle, R. Levant, D. A. Santisteban, & J. Bray (Eds.), Family psychology: Science-based interventions (pp. 331–352). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi: 10.1037/10438-016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Solis-Camara, P. R., & Fox, R. A. (1996). Parenting practices and expectations among Mexican mothers with young children. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 157(4), 465–476. doi: 10.1080/00221325.1996.9914879 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. U.S. Census Bureau. (2015). Income and poverty in the United States: 2014. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from Google Scholar
  38. Villatoro, A. P., Morales, E. S., & Mays, V. M. (2014). Family culture in mental health help-seeking and utilization in a nationally representative sample of Latinos in the United States: The NLAAS. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(4), 353. doi: 10.1037/h0099844 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Wadsworth, M. E., Raviv, T., Reinhard, C., Wolff, B., Santiago, C. D., & Einhorn, L. (2008). An indirect effects model of the association between poverty and child functioning: The role of children’s poverty-related stress. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 13, 156–185. doi: 10.1177/1066480713476836 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Fox
    • 1
  • Lauryn A. Besasie
    • 1
  • Michael P. Fung
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Counselor Education and Counseling PsychologyMarquette UniversityMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Counselor Education and Counseling PsychologyJesse Brown VA Medical CenterChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations