Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP)

An Evidence-Based Practice


Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) is a parenting intervention aimed at improving parent/child communication and helping children learn from the consequences of their own choices. The program is presented in a group format to six to twelve parents at a time. A facilitator guides parents through eight or nine interactive lessons, each approximately 1.5 hours in length. These lessons include information on understanding child behavior, parent behavior, positive listening, giving encouragement, development of a child’s responsibilities and confidence, consequences, and family meetings. Parents engage in discussions, role-plays, and share personal experiences. They also view videos of effective and ineffective family interactions.

There are four current versions of STEP: Early Childhood STEP for parents with children ages six and under, STEP and Spanish STEP for parents with children ages six through twelve, and STEP/Teen for parents with adolescent children. The complete program intervention kit includes the Leader’s Resource Guide, Parent’s Handbook, DVDs, and a drug prevention education component.

Goal / Mission

The goal of this program is to provide parents with the necessary skills to improve their parent/child communication and overall family functioning.

Results / Accomplishments

Multiple studies have evaluated STEP’s effectiveness with abusive parents, at risk families, and families with a child who has a mental illness.

In one study, low-income Puerto Rican mothers of three- and four-year-olds rated their child significantly more positively following the intervention as compared to the control group (p = .048). Another study found that parents who had history or were suspected of child abuse had significantly less potential to be physically abusive after STEP, as compared to the control group (p = .003). An experimental study on families with children 2-16 years old who receive mental health service found that STEP families had greater improvement in general family functioning (p < .05) compared to control families. A study of Early Childhood STEP demonstrated that parents with infants and toddlers experienced a decline in parenting stress from pre- to post- intervention as compared to the control group (p < .001). Another study of parents with infants and toddlers showed that STEP participants improved their young child’s home environment, making it more stimulating and supportive (p < .01) following Early Childhood STEP participation.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Don Dinkmeyer, Jr., Ph.D., NCC, LPCC
STEP Publishers, LLC

P.O. Box 51722

Bowling Green, KY 42102-6722
(270) 781-9481
Social Environment / Family Structure
Social Environment / Children's Social Environment
STEP Publishers, LLC
SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP)
Date of publication
For more details
Target Audience
Adults, Families

Related Content