The Development of Interpersonal Problem Solving and Anger Management Skills in Boys with Early Onset Conduct Problems

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology


School of Psychology and Social Science


Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Deborah Gardner


The aim of study one was to investigate the effectiveness of interpersonal problem solving (IPS-AM) skills training to parent-child dyads compared to parent group intervention. Four boys, aged 7 to 9 years, who met diagnostic criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder, participated in the study with their mothers. A multiple baseline across participants, single case experimental design was implemented. Both interventions resulted in improvements in the children’s prosocial reasoning and reduced antisocial reasoning but with some floor effects. Independent naturalistic observation in the home recorded no changes in the noncompliance to parental instruction and verbal aggression of the children. In addition, no change was found for negative parental verbalisation toward the child and very low levels of positive verbalisation and praise between parents and children were observed. In addition, poor parental compliance to program requirements was also found. Study two’s aim was to focus the parent-child interaction onto a specific area of conflict and examine the effectiveness of parent-child training using behaviour task analysis. There was a reduction in the task demand and the number of intervention sessions provided. A multiple baseline across participants, single case experimental design was implemented with three, 7 to 8year-old boys and their mothers. Independent observers recorded no change in child and parent behaviour from baseline during intervention. However, at follow-up improvements in non-compliance and verbal aggression in the children and verbal aggression in parents were found. Improvements in children’s prosocial reasoning, antisocial reasoning and parent report of the internalizing and externalizing behaviour scores as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist were found at post-intervention. At follow-up parent report was more consistent with in-home observation. It was concluded that reducing the number of intervention sessions and the task demand improved attendance and program compliance. The paradoxical finding was of worsening behaviour in some children and parents during intervention yet improvement on follow-up. Implications for future research and clinical practice were explored.

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