An emotion-focused early intervention for children with emerging conduct problems.


This paper evaluates the real-world effectiveness of an emotion-focused, multi-systemic early intervention combining an emotion socialization parenting program with a child and school socio-emotional intervention for children with emerging conduct problems. Schools in lower socioeconomic areas of Victoria, Australia were randomized into intervention or wait-list control. Children in the first 4 years of elementary school were screened for behavior problems and those in the top 8 % of severity were invited to participate in the intervention. The study sample consisted of 204 primary caregivers and their children (Mage = 7.05, SD = 1.06; 74 % boys). Data were collected at baseline and 10 months later using parent and teacher reports and direct child assessment. Measures of parent emotion socialization, family emotion expressiveness, and children’s emotion competence, social competence and behavior were administered. Results showed intervention parents but not controls became less emotionally dismissive and increased in empathy, and children showed better emotion understanding and behavior compared to control children. These outcomes lend support for an emotion-focused approach to early intervention in a real-world context for children with conduct problems.