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An evaluation of a behavioural parenting intervention for parents of gifted
Alina Morawska*, Matthew Sanders
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
a r t i c l e i n f o
Received 10 December 2008
Received in revised form
11 February 2009
Accepted 17 February 2009
Child emotional adjustment
Gifted and talented children
Group Triple P
a b s t r a c t
Parents of gifted children identify a need for tailored parenting support, and gifted children have unique
requirements and vulnerabilities. The aim of this study was to assess the efﬁcacy of a tailored behavioural
parenting intervention, for enhancing the parenting skills of parents of gifted children and to assess the
effect of these changes on the behavioural and emotional adjustment of their gifted child. A randomised
controlled trial of tailored Group Triple P – Positive Parenting Program was conducted with 75 parents of
children identiﬁed as gifted. Results indicated signiﬁcant intervention effects for the number and
frequency of parent reported child behaviour problems, as well as hyperactivity in the intervention
group, relative to a waitlist control. Parents also reported signiﬁcant improvements in their own
parenting style, including less permissiveness, harshness, and verbosity when disciplining their child. No
intervention effects were evident for teacher reports, except for a trend in relation to hyperactivity. This
study demonstrated that a tailored behavioural parenting intervention is effective and acceptable for
parents of gifted children, and thus has clinical implications for the delivery of parenting interventions
for this population.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
There is growing consensus that gifted and talented children on
average do not experience more difﬁculties than all children
(Calero, Garcia-Martin, Jimenez, Kazen, & Araque, 2007; Morawska
& Sanders, in press; Neihart, Reis, Robinson, & Moon, 2002),
however, a number of factors may place individual gifted children
at higher risk for developing behavioural or emotional problems.
These factors include: asynchronous development (Pfeiffer &
Stocking, 2000; Roedell, 1984; Silverman, 1993b; Webb, 1993);
unrealistic expectations of parents and teachers, including exces-
sive and inappropriate use of praise (Freeman, 1995; Webb, 1993);
parent over-involvement (Pfeiffer & Stocking, 2000; Winner, 2000);
a mismatch between the child’s ability and the instructional envi-
ronment, and; difﬁculties with peer groups (Neihart et al., 2002;
Pfeiffer & Stocking, 2000). There are also a number of daily stressors
that are speciﬁc to gifted children such as pressure from others to
perform, feeling different to others, not being understood by others,
and impatience with easy tasks (Preuss & Dubow, 2004).
Although there is limited empirical research on the experience
of parenting a gifted child, there is some evidence that the role
presents additional challenges to those of parenting a typically
developing child (Alsop, 1997; Feldman & Piirto, 1995; Karnes,
Shwedel, & Steinberg, 1984; Moon, Jurich, & Feldhusen, 1996;
Rimm, 1995), and parents of gifted children report that they require
assistance with various aspects of parenting (Dangel & Walker,
1991; Huff, Houskamp, Watkins, Stanton, & Tavegia, 2005; Silver-
man, 1993a; Strom, Johnson, Strom, & Strom, 1992). Overall, while
little is known about the variations in parenting a gifted and non-
gifted child, existing research suggests that most parents face
similar issues, although there are differences in terms of parent
expectations and conﬁdence in their ability to manage and assist
their gifted child (Chan, 2005; Dwairy, 2004; Huff et al., 2005;
Morawska & Sanders, 2008; Neumeister, 2004; Winner, 2000).
Only a handful of programs have been developed addressing
parenting needs in this population; however, these have been
largely focused on educational needs (Hertzog & Bennett, 2004),
have been very brief with little evidence concerning efﬁcacy (e.g.,
Conroy, 1987; Webb & De Vries, 1998), or have simply presented
a list of strategies for parents to employ without any form of
evaluation of the efﬁcacy of such strategies (e.g., Shaughnessy &
* Corresponding author at: Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of
Psychology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia. Tel.: þ61 7 3365
7304; fax: þ61 7 3365 6724.
E-mail address: email@example.com (A. Morawska).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Behaviour Research and Therapy
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/brat
0005-7967/$ – see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Behaviour Research and Therapy 47 (2009) 463–470
Neely, 1987). This is in the context of surveys suggesting that
parenting and educational services for parents are identiﬁed as key
required services, as differentiated from standard services for
parents, with a particular focus on understanding the emotional
and social needs of the gifted child (Alsop, 1997; Moon, Kelly, &
Feldhusen, 1997). There is a recognised need for family interven-
tions for parents of gifted children, focused on both intervention
with children exhibiting problems, and prevention for children
identiﬁed as gifted but not currently exhibiting problems (Fornia &
Parenting programs derived from social-learning, functional
analysis, and cognitive–behavioural principles, are considered the
interventions of choice for behavioural difﬁculties in children
(Lundahl, Risser, & Lovejoy, 2006), and have also proven efﬁcacious
in prevention studies (Prinz & Dumas, 2004). Positive effects have
been replicated many times across different studies, investigators,
and countries, and with a diverse range of client populations, and
have been identiﬁed as exemplary on multiple best-practice lists
(Sanders, 1999). Parents are typically taught to increase positive
interactions with children and to reduce coercive and inconsistent
parenting practices. Parents who have completed a behavioural
parenting intervention praise their child more, set clearer, calmer
limits, criticise less often, and smack their child less frequently (e.g.,
Patterson, Chamberlin, & Reid, 1982).
To the authors’ knowledge behavioural parenting programs
have not been speciﬁcally evaluated in the context of parenting
a gifted child. However, there is evidence to suggest that such
interventions are efﬁcacious across a range of child difﬁculties and
contexts (Barlow & Stewart-Brown, 2000). The aim of this study
was to assess the efﬁcacy of a tailored behavioural parenting
intervention (Morawska & Sanders, in press), on the parenting skills
of parents of gifted children and to assess the effect of these
changes on the behavioural and emotional adjustment of the gifted
child. The intervention used in this study was Triple P – Positive
Parenting Program which is an extensively evaluated program for
parents of children with behavioural and emotional problems,
within the framework of a population health approach to
enhancing parenting competence (de Graaf, Speetjens, Smit, de
Wolff, & Tavecchio, 2008; Nowak & Heinrichs, 2008). A randomised
controlled trial of tailored Group Triple P was conducted for parents
of children identiﬁed as gifted. It was predicted that compared to
waitlist control, parents in the intervention group would report
more effective parenting styles, less child behavioural and
emotional problems, and better overall family adjustment
following intervention. It was also predicted that these effects
would be maintained at 6-month follow-up, and that improve-
ments in children’s behaviour would also generalise to the
Participants were recruited through the Queensland Gifted and
Talented Association (a parent led organisation), as well as school
newsletter notices emailed to all Brisbane elementary schools with
a publicly listed email address. In addition, media releases and
school presentations were utilised in order to gain as wide
a participant pool as possible. Recruitment was conducted over
a period of 14-months. Overall, 204 families contacted the program,
and completed a 10-min telephone screening interview, designed
to assess the family’s suitability for the program, as well as inform
the parent of program requirements.
The major criterion for eligibility was the presence in the family
of child between the ages of 3 and 10 years, and that the family
lived within the Brisbane metropolitan area. Furthermore, in order
to be eligible to participate the child had to have received a formal
cognitive assessment or have been identiﬁed at school as gifted by
placement in a gifted class or accelerated in their schooling. Parents
also had to report concerns about their child’s behaviour or their
parenting (Are you concerned about your child’s behaviour or
emotional adjustment or your parenting?). In addition, families were
excluded if the parents were currently seeing a professional for the
child’s behaviour difﬁculties. Eighty-four families (41.2%) were
eligible to participate and the main reason for non-eligibility was
that the child had not received a formal assessment of their ability,
and/or the parent was not concerned about the child’s behaviour or
their own parenting.
Of these 84 families, 75 (89.3%) families returned the initial
assessment package and were randomly assigned to one of two
conditions. Thirty-seven families were assigned to Group Triple P,
while 38 families were assigned to the waitlist control group. Sixty-
eight (90.7%) of the participating parents were mothers and seven
(9.3%) were fathers. There were 45 (60%) male and 30 female
children, with an average age of 7.81 (SD ¼ 1.89). The mothers of
these children were on average aged 39.28 (SD ¼ 5.50), ranging
from 27 to 54. Fathers were on average aged 41.77 (SD ¼ 6.01),
ranging from 30 to 56. Most children lived in their original family
(86.7%) with a minority living in a single parent (8%) or step (4%)
family. The majority of parents were married (85.3%), with the
remainder single or separated. Family size ranged from one to four
children, with a mean of 2.23 (SD ¼ .73). The majority of families
identiﬁed themselves as Australian (85.3%), while 5.3% were Asian,
1.3% were Maori, and a further 8% indicated ‘Other’ ethnicity.
In general, both parents were well educated, with 77.3% of
mothers and 65.3% of fathers holding a university degree. Sixty
percent of mothers were employed, working an average of 23.21 h
(SD ¼ 12.50). The majority (86.7%) of fathers were employed,
working an average of 46.53 h (SD ¼ 11.19). Most (72%) households
had an annual income over AUD$70,000; with 10.7% having an
annual income of AUD$50,000–70,000; 12% an income of
AUD$25,000–50,000, and; 2.7% an income of less than $25,000
Parents provided details of their child’s cognitive assessments1
however, these were not available in 12% of cases (e.g., in order to
be eligible for the study children may have been accelerated at
school, without a formal assessment). A full scale IQ was available
for 54 children, ranging from 119 to 160, with a mean of 132.98
(SD ¼ 7.80). A verbal IQ was available for 38 children, ranging from
106 to 151, with a mean of 133.08 (SD ¼ 10.59). However, a verbal
IQ percentile score was available for 53 children, with a mean of
95.66 (SD ¼ 8.05). A non-verbal IQ was available for 37 children,
ranging from 106 to 155, with a mean of 127.08 (SD ¼ 9.34). A non-
verbal IQ percentile score was available for 50 children, with
a mean of 94.31 (SD ¼ 6.26). Thirty six percent of children were
receiving extension work (e.g., completing work in mathematics
a year above their current academic year); 24% of children were
accelerated by one academic year (based on their age); 1.3% of
children were accelerated by more than one academic year, and;
6.7% of children were in a gifted class.
A Family Background Questionnaire was used to assess socio-
economic status (including income, occupational status, and parent
A verbal or non-verbal or full-scale IQ score of 130 was used as the cut-off for
determining eligibility. Some children had wide discrepancies between their verbal
and non-verbal scores, but in all cases at least one score was above 130.
A. Morawska, M. Sanders / Behaviour Research and Therapy 47 (2009) 463–470464
education), ethnic background, single parenting, and parent age, as
well as child age, gender and health. An additional series of ques-
tions asked for details of the child’s cognitive assessments, and
Child behaviour was assessed using the Eyberg Child Behavior
Inventory (ECBI; Eyberg & Pincus, 1999), a 36 item measure of
parental perceptions of disruptive behaviour in children between
the ages of 2 and 16. It consists of a measure of the frequency of
disruptive behaviours (intensity) rated on a 7-point scale, ranging
from never (1) to always (7) and a measure of the number of
behaviours that are a problem for parents (problem), using a yes–no
format. In this sample there was good internal consistency (a ¼ .91
and .93, respectively), and the ECBI has good test–retest reliability
(r ¼ .86 and .88, respectively). Scores greater than 131 on the
intensity scale and greater than 15 on the problem scale are
indicative of difﬁculties in the clinical range, and were used as
clinical cut-offs in this study.
Child adjustment was assessed using the Strengths and Difﬁ-
culties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 1997), a screening measure
that is used to identify children’s emotional and behavioural
problems over the previous 6-months. The measure consists of 25
items that address ﬁve factors; hyperactivity, conduct problems,
emotional symptoms, pro-social behaviour and peer problems,
and ﬁve items that assess the impact of the problems on various
aspects of the child’s life. Five items measure each of the ﬁve
subscales and responses are assessed using a 3-point scale.
Parents respond according to how correct they feel each state-
ment is for their child and options are (0) not true, (1) somewhat
true and (2) certainly true. A total difﬁculties score is produced by
summing all of the deﬁcit scores together excluding pro-social
behaviour, giving a total score ranging from 0 to 40. A total impact
score is generated by the scores on the ﬁve impact questions,
measured on a 4-point scale.
The SDQ has been shown to reliably discriminate between clinic
and non-clinic children with a total score cut-off for the normal
range of 13 out of 40. Scores of 14–16 are considered borderline and
a score of 17 or more indicates clinically elevated difﬁculty. The SDQ
has well established reliability and validity, and Australian data
shows moderate to good internal consistency for each subscale
(ranging from a ¼ .67 to a ¼ .80) and total difﬁculties scores
(a ¼ .73) (Mellor, 2005). The scale displayed moderate internal
consistency in the present sample (a ¼ .74) for parents. Teachers
completed the teacher version of the SDQ, and the internal
consistency for this sample was moderate (a ¼ .76).
The Parenting Tasks Checklist (PTC; Sanders & Woolley, 2005) is
a 28 item tool used to assess task-speciﬁc self-efﬁcacy. For each
item parents are asked to indicate on a scale of 0 (Certain I can’t do
it) to 100 (Certain I can do it) how conﬁdent they feel in managing
each child behaviour. The PTC consists of two subscales, behav-
ioural and setting self-efﬁcacy both with excellent internal
consistency (a ¼ .95 and .87, respectively) in this sample.
The Parenting Scale (PS; Arnold, O’Leary, Wolff, & Acker, 1993) is
a 30 item questionnaire measuring three dysfunctional discipline
styles: laxness (permissive discipline), over-reactivity (authori-
tarian discipline, displays of anger), and verbosity (overly long
reprimands or reliance on talking). Each item has a more effective
and a less effective anchor, and parents indicate on a 7-point scale,
which end better represents their behaviour. The scales had good
internal consistency in this sample (a ¼ .82, .82, and .63, respec-
tively) and the scale has good test–retest reliability (r ¼ .83, .82, and
The Parent Problem Checklist (PPC; Dadds & Powell, 1991) is a 16
item questionnaire measuring conﬂict between parents speciﬁcally
relating to child-rearing practices and their abilities to co-operate
as parents, including disagreement over household rules, discipline
and inconsistency between parents. For each of the items, parents
report whether or not the issue has been a problem over the last
4 weeks by answering either yes or no. This generates a score on the
problem scale, which indicates the number of areas in which the
parents are experiencing conﬂict. The problem scale ranges from
0 to 16, with a clinical cut-off of 5. Dadds and Powell reported the
problem scale to have good internal consistency (a ¼ .70) and high
test–retest reliability (r ¼ .90). The internal consistency for the
current sample was high (a ¼ .84). For each issue that parents
identify as problematic they are also asked to rate the extent to
which each issue has caused difﬁculty. Extent is measured on a 7-
point scale ranging from (1) not at all to (7) very much, with scores
on the extent scale ranging from 16 to 112. In the present sample,
the extent scale displayed high internal consistency (a ¼ .89). The
PPC also has concurrent validity with the DAS (Bayer, Sanson, &
The Relationship Quality Index (RQI; Norton, 1983) is comprised
of six items that measure global relationship satisfaction that can
discriminate between clinic and non-clinic couples. In the present
sample, the scale was found to have a high level of internal
consistency (a ¼ .96). The ﬁrst ﬁve items assesses relationship
strength, stability and satisfaction on a 7-point scale ranging from
(1) very strongly disagree to (7) very strongly agree. The ﬁnal item
assesses overall happiness of the relationship on a 10-point scale
ranging from unhappy (1) to perfectly happy (10). The measure
generates a total score from 6 to 45, with a cut-off of 29 or less
indicating a clinically elevated level of dissatisfaction in the rela-
tionship. The index is correlated with the Dyadic Adjustment Scale
The Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS; Lovibond & Lovi-
bond, 1995) is a 21 item questionnaire assessing symptoms of
depression, anxiety and stress in adults, with adequate internal
consistency for each scale in this sample (a ¼ .84, .54 and .86,
respectively). It has good convergent and discriminant validity.
Parents indicate the extent to which each item applies to them on
a scale from 0 (Did not apply to me at all) to 3 (Applied to me very
much, or most of the time). Scores on each scale can range from
0 to 42.
Following the intervention parents completed a Client Satis-
faction Questionnaire (CSQ; Sanders, Markie-Dadds, & Turner,
2001), which addresses the quality of the service provided; how
well the program met the parent’s needs and decreased the
child’s problem behaviours; and whether the parent would
recommend the program to others. Scores range from 13 to 91,
with higher scores indicating greater satisfaction with the
The design of the study is a fully randomised, repeated measures
design employing a group comparison methodology involving two
conditions (group Triple P versus waitlist control (WLC)) by three
time periods (pre-, post- and 6-month follow-up).
Ethical clearance for the study was sought and received in
accordance with the ethical review processes of the University of
Queensland and within the guidelines of the National Health and
Medical Research Council. Written informed consent was obtained
from all participating families. Families were randomly assigned
after initial assessment to one of two conditions (intervention or
waitlist). Randomisation was implemented using a list of computer
generated random numbers, and families were assigned sequen-
tially to condition.
A. Morawska, M. Sanders / Behaviour Research and Therapy 47 (2009) 463–470 465
Gifted and Talented Group Triple P is based on Group Triple P
which is described extensively (Turner, Markie-Dadds, & Sanders,
2000), consisting of ﬁve weekly, 2 h group sessions, followed by
three weekly, 15-min telephone consultations and a ﬁnal 2 h
group session. Gifted and Talented Group Triple P is speciﬁcally
tailored for the need of parents of gifted and talented children
based on pilot work and parent surveys (Morawska & Sanders,
2008; Morawska & Sanders, in press).
Each family receives both the Every Parent’s Workbook (Markie-
Dadds, Turner, & Sanders, 1997), and the Parenting Gifted and
Talented Children Group Workbook (Morawska & Sanders, 2006),
while the Every Parent’s Survival Guide video (Sanders, Markie-
Dadds, & Turner,1996) is used to supplement written materials. The
program involves teaching parents core child management skills
falling into three areas: (1) promoting children’s development; (2)
managing misbehaviour; and (3) planned activities and routines.
This tailored program involves teaching parents 17 core child
management strategies. Ten of the strategies are designed to
promote children’s competence and development (quality time;
talking with children; physical affection; praise; attention;
engaging activities; setting a good example; ask, say, do; incidental
teaching; and behaviour charts), and seven strategies are designed
to help parents manage misbehaviour (setting rules; directed
discussion; planned ignoring; clear, direct instructions; logical
consequences; quiet time; and time-out). A number of speciﬁc
parenting issues are emphasised in the tailored version of the
program including: having clear expectations of children; problem
solving skills; promoting children’s self-esteem; encouraging
persistence and perseverance; having effective rules and bound-
aries; helping children to establish good sibling and peer rela-
tionships; managing anxiety and other emotions; and building
a good school–home partnership. In addition, parents are taught
a six-step planned activities routine to enhance the generalisation
and maintenance of parenting skills (plan ahead, decide on rules,
select engaging activities, decide on rewards and consequences,
and hold a follow-up discussion with child). Consequently, parents
are taught to apply parenting skills to a broad range of target
behaviours in both home and community settings with the target
child and all relevant siblings. Active skills training methods
include modelling, role-plays, feedback, and the use of speciﬁc
Each practitioner delivering Triple P receives training using
a nationally coordinated system of training and accreditation,
designed to promote program use and program ﬁdelity. Practi-
tioners deliver Triple P according to a standardised manual and
follow treatment delivery protocols. Each practitioner completed
protocol adherence checklists for each session conducted, which
were reviewed and coded for adherence. Session 1 consists of 24
topics, and on average group facilitators reported delivering 22.8
topics. Session 2 consists of 23 topics, and on average group facil-
itators reported delivering 22.2 topics. Session 3 consists of 26
topics and on average group facilitators reported delivering 24.2
topics. Session 4 consists of 20 topics, and on average group facil-
itators reported delivering 17.8 topics. Session 5 consists of 21
topics, and on average group facilitators reported delivering 19.9
topics. Practitioners also received regular supervision. In addition,
group sessions were videotaped and independently coded by
a research assistant for protocol adherence. The inter-rater reli-
ability (kappa) between the coder and facilitator ratings was
Preliminary analyses were conducted to check for deviations
from statistical assumptions. As most of the outcome measures are
continuous scale scores, short-term intervention effects were
analysed by a series of MANCOVAs with post-intervention scores as
dependent variables. The main dependent variables for these
analyses included: parent-reported child adjustment (ECBI, SDQ),
parenting style and conﬁdence (PS, PTC), parent relationship and
adjustment (DASS, PPC, RQI). The level of signiﬁcance for these
analyses was established by using a family-wise modiﬁed Bonfer-
roni correction in which a p-value of .05 is divided by the number of
measures in the group of measures. Follow-up effects were ana-
lysed using repeated-measures MANOVAs. Intent-to-treat analyses.
Treatment outcome were measured via the typical method of
including only completers of treatment, thus excluding those who
drop out of the trial before the post-intervention or follow-up
assessment phases. The second, more conservative method of
measuring treatment efﬁcacy, is to include all participants who
were randomised at the commencement of the trial (Kendall,
Butcher, & Holmbeck, 1999). That is provided there was intent-to-
treat the participant at the commencement of the project, then that
participant was included in the analyses. In employing the intent-
to-treat analyses, dropouts were contacted at the post-intervention
and follow-up phases (where possible) and assessed according to
the protocol established for the project. If this was not possible,
then a participant’s pre-intervention scores were used as their
post-intervention scores. The impact of the intervention was
assessed using reliable change indices, to test whether statistically
signiﬁcant intervention effects are clinically meaningful (Jacobson
& Truax, 1991).
No between-group differences on demographic variables were
found on preliminary analysis. There were also no signiﬁcant
differences across the majority of outcome variables, indicating
that the randomisation process resulted in two groups that were
not signiﬁcantly different prior to intervention. Nevertheless, pre-
intervention scores were used as covariates in subsequent analyses
in order to control for any differences. There was minimal missing
data, and analyses were conducted with pairwise exclusion of
missing data. The only exception was the teacher SDQ data, where
missing values were replaced with item means.
Overall, a very high retention rate at post-intervention was
accomplished, with 70 of the original 75 (93.3%) parents
completing post-assessment. Of the ﬁve parents who did not
complete the post-assessment, four were from the intervention
condition and one from the waitlist condition. One participant
moved inter-state, one was undergoing chemotherapy, one had
a new baby, and for one the child had just received a diagnosis of
learning disability. The ﬁnal participant who withdrew did not have
sufﬁcient time to attend the groups. There were no signiﬁcant
differences in the rates of attrition across the two groups, c2
75) ¼ 2.02, p ¼ .200. Thirty-one of the original 37 parents (83.8%) in
the intervention condition participated in the follow-up assess-
ment. To examine any signiﬁcant differential attrition across
groups, a series of one-way ANOVAs was used to compare
completers versus non-completers across all dependent variables
at pre-intervention. There were no signiﬁcant differences on any
outcome measure between parents who completed post-assess-
ment versus those who did not.
A. Morawska, M. Sanders / Behaviour Research and Therapy 47 (2009) 463–470466
Short-term intervention effects
A signiﬁcant multivariate intervention effect was found for child
behaviour problems for parents’ ECBI scores, F(2, 61) ¼ 11.68,
p < .001, indicating that there were signiﬁcant intervention effects
across groups. Univariate ANCOVAs indicated signiﬁcant interven-
tion effects for both intensity and number of child behaviour
problems, as indicated in Table 1. There was also a signiﬁcant
multivariate effect for children’s adjustment assessed using the
SDQ, F(4, 61) ¼ 3.74, p ¼ .009, however, univariately there was an
intervention effect for the hyperactivity scale only, as seen in Table
1. A signiﬁcant intervention effect was found for parenting style,
and parental conﬁdence, F(4, 51) ¼ 6.62, p < .001. Univariate
ANCOVAs indicated signiﬁcant intervention effects for laxness,
verbosity and over-reactivity, but not parental conﬁdence as shown
in Table 2.
No signiﬁcant intervention effect was found for parental
reports of personal and marital adjustment, F(3, 53) ¼ 1.86,
p ¼ .147. Table 2 provides details of the means and standard
deviations, for the DASS total score, PPC problem and RQI. As
indicated in the table all scores, with the exception of PPC
problem at pre-intervention for the WL group are within the
normal range, thus making it likely that ﬂoor effects obscure
intervention effects Table 3.
As shown in Table 3, the intervention group improved reliably
compared to the waitlist group for ECBI intensity, c2
69) ¼ 12.76, p < .001. The only reliable change in the waitlist
condition was one participant who became reliably worse, while
none in the intervention group became reliably worse. Similarly,
the intervention group improved reliably compared to the waitlist
group for ECBI problem, c2
(1, 62) ¼ 10.33, p ¼ .003. Four partici-
pants in the waitlist condition changed reliably, with three of
these becoming reliably worse. One participant in the interven-
tion condition also became reliably worse. Interestingly, this same
participant, also reported a reliable improvement on ECBI
For PS laxness, there was no difference between intervention
and waitlist conditions, c2
(1, 69) ¼ 2.24, p ¼ .186. However, one
participant in the waitlist condition became reliably worse, while
none became worse in the intervention condition. The intervention
group improved reliably compared to the waitlist group for PS over-
(1, 69) ¼ 4.85, p ¼ .040. One participant in the waitlist
condition became reliably worse, while none became worse in the
intervention condition. Similarly, the intervention group improved
reliably compared to the waitlist group for PS verbosity
(1, 69) ¼ 6.23, p ¼ .018.
Intent-to-treat analyses were conducted including all clients
present at the time of randomisation. Where post-intervention
scores were not available (drop-outs), original pre-intervention
scores were substituted. Intent-to-treat analyses were conducted
only when the original analyses on completers were signiﬁcant,
that is for child behaviour and parenting style.
A signiﬁcant intervention effect was found for child behaviour
problems, F(2, 66) ¼ 9.47, p < .001. Univariate ANCOVAs indicated
signiﬁcant intervention effects for both intensity and number of
child behaviour problems, F(1, 67) ¼ 15.62, p < .001 and F(1,
67) ¼ 14.57, p < .001, respectively. A signiﬁcant intervention effect
was found for parenting style, F(3, 67) ¼ 7.57, p < .001, with signif-
icant univariate intervention effects for laxness, F(1, 69) ¼ 4.80,
p ¼ .032, verbosity, F(1, 69) ¼ 19.90, p < .001, and over-reactivity,
F(1, 69) ¼ 15.93, p < .001.
A total satisfaction score was obtained by summing all Likert-
type items (on a 7-point scale with 7 being very satisﬁed). The
maximum reported score was 88, while the minimum was 49, with
a mean satisfaction rating of 69.29 (SD ¼ 10.53), indicating that on
average parents were satisﬁed with the program.
Long-term intervention effects
Long-term intervention effects were assessed using repeated-
measures MANOVAs, comparing pre-intervention to follow-up
effects only for the intervention group across child behaviour and
parenting variables, followed by univariate ANOVAs. There was
a signiﬁcant multivariate time effect for child behaviour, F(2,
26) ¼ 19.58, p < .001, with univariate effects signiﬁcant for both
ECBI intensity, F(1, 27) ¼ 26.05, p < .001, and ECBI problem, F(1,
27) ¼ 26.60, p < .001. There was also a signiﬁcant multivariate time
effect for parenting style, F(3, 26) ¼ 6.25, p ¼ .002, with univariate
effects signiﬁcant for laxness F(1, 28) ¼ 4.66, p ¼ .040, verbosity,
F(1, 28) ¼ 15.37, p ¼ .001, and over-reactivity, F(1, 28) ¼ 16.33,
p < .001. The results indicate a maintenance effect over the 6-
month period for child behaviour and parenting style.
No signiﬁcant multivariate intervention effect was found for child
behaviour and adjustment problems for teachers’ SDQ scores, F(4,
35) ¼ 2.42, p ¼ .067 at post-intervention, and only the univariate
effect for SDQ hyperactivity was signiﬁcant, F(1, 38) ¼ 8.48, p ¼ .006.
There was also no multivariate time effect for pre-intervention to
Short-term intervention effects for parental reports of child behaviour and adjustment.
Measure Intervention Waitlist ANCOVA p
Pre Post Pre Post
M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD)
(N ¼ 32) (N ¼ 34) F(1, 66)
ECBI intensity 124.06 (26.99) 103.38 (25.67) 112.57 (28.81) 111.71 (28.80) 19.84 <.001
ECBI problem 13.61 (6.68) 8.38 (6.87) 10.68 (6.68) 11.35 (7.32) 16.69 <.001
(N ¼ 33) (N ¼ 37) F(1, 64)
SDQ emotional symptoms 2.61 (2.46) 2.85 (2.40) 3.59 (2.27) 3.68 (2.77) .01 .925
SDQ conduct problems 2.82 (1.99) 2.18 (1.53) 1.95 (1.78) 1.84 (1.57) 1.20 .278
SDQ hyperactivity 4.30 (2.07) 3.39 (1.97) 3.62 (2.62) 4.00 (2.44) 11.26 .001
SDQ peer problems 2.79 (2.32) 3.24 (2.44) 2.70 (2.26) 2.97 (2.55) .223 .638
Note. Pre ¼ pre-intervention; Post ¼ post-intervention for Group Triple P and second assessment for WL; F ¼ ANCOVA univariate effect for condition; ECBI ¼ Eyberg Child
Behavior Inventory; SDQ ¼ Strengths and Difﬁculties Questionnaire
A. Morawska, M. Sanders / Behaviour Research and Therapy 47 (2009) 463–470 467
follow-up repeated MANOVA for teachers’ SDQ scores, F(4,
16) ¼ .684, p ¼ .613, however data for only 20 participants were
available at follow-up. Pre-, and post-intervention, and follow-up
means and standard deviations are provided in Table 4, showing that
pre-intervention scores were in the normal range. This indicates that
a ﬂoor effect may have obscured any signiﬁcant changes in the
The results of the present study provide support for the efﬁcacy
of tailored Group Triple P for parents of gifted children. There were
signiﬁcant short-term effects of intervention in terms of parent
reported child behaviour problems, hyperactivity, and parenting
style providing partial support for hypothesis one. The participants
in the intervention condition showed not only statistically signiﬁ-
cant improvements, but also changes that were clinically reliable
compared to the waitlist condition. Parents reported fewer prob-
lematic child behaviours, and less frequent difﬁcult behaviour
following intervention, and there was also indication that they
perceived their child to be less hyperactive. However, there was no
effect on the child’s emotional symptoms or peer difﬁculties.
Furthermore, the effects reported in this study were conﬁrmed by
more conservative intent-to-treat analyses, which control for the
effects of attrition. These effects were maintained over the 6-month
follow-up period, providing support for hypothesis two. The effect
sizes for intervention effects range from low to moderate for child
behaviour outcomes and moderate to high for parenting outcomes,
consistent with the initial sub-clinical nature of the study sample.
Given that parents were reporting low to moderate levels of difﬁ-
cult behaviour at pre-intervention, leaving limited room for change,
these effects indicate the strength of the intervention in leading to
The results of this study are consistent with previous research,
which has supported the use of behavioural parenting programs
and Triple P in particular, in reducing child behaviour problems and
improving parenting skills (de Graaf et al., 2008; Nowak & Hein-
richs, 2008; Zubrick et al., 2005). Consistent with previous research,
this study has provided support for changes in both parents and
children immediately following parenting intervention (e.g.,
Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Hammond, 2004), and for maintenance
of treatment gains (e.g., Sanders, Bor, & Morawska, 2007). Impor-
tantly, this research also extends the available evidence on the
efﬁcacy of parenting intervention for parents of gifted children,
pointing the generalisability of program content and strategies to
parents of varying needs.
Contrary to previous ﬁndings (e.g., Connell, Sanders, & Markie-
Dadds, 1997; Forehand, Wells, & Griest, 1980) there were no
signiﬁcant effects of parenting intervention on parents’ personal
adjustment or their marital relationships. However, all parent
personal and martial adjustment scores were well within the
normal range at pre-intervention, indicating that ﬂoor and ceiling
effects most likely account for a lack of signiﬁcant ﬁndings. Simi-
larly, there were no effects for teacher reports of child behaviour
problems within the school setting, except for a trend in relation to
hyperactivity. There are three reasons which may account for this
ﬁnding. The ﬁrst is that using the same measure (SDQ), there were
also no signiﬁcant effects reported by parents, except for hyperac-
tivity. This may reﬂect the fact that the SDQ has a 3-point response
format, which may not be sensitive to change, particularly when
teachers report mild to moderate levels of difﬁculty. The second
reason for the lack of signiﬁcant ﬁndings for teacher reports, is that
on average teachers reported low levels of problems, and all the
pre-intervention scores were well within the normal range, sug-
gesting that ﬂoor effects may have obscured any changes. Finally,
the number of teachers providing data on children was also low,
reducing the power to detect an effect.
The study demonstrated that behavioural parenting interven-
tions can provide beneﬁts in terms of improved child behaviour
and parenting skill for parents of gifted children, however, there
are a number of limitations of this study that need to be consid-
ered in interpreting the ﬁndings. Firstly, the sample is drawn from
the general population and thus consists of families who have
some concerns about their child’s behaviour or their own
parenting. This was a sub-clinical sample, and some pre-inter-
vention scores were in the normal range, particularly more general
Short-term intervention effects for parenting style and conﬁdence, as well as parental adjustment and inter-parent relationship.
Measure Intervention Waitlist ANCOVA p
Pre Post Pre Post
M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD)
(N ¼ 29) (N ¼ 31) F(1, 54)
PS laxness 2.43 (.58) 2.06 (.69) 2.46 (.76) 2.56 (.74) 7.73 .007
PS verbosity 3.59 (.82) 2.70 (.86) 3.67 (.89) 3.74 (.93) 22.71 <.001
PS over-reactivity 3.32 (.61) 2.61 (.70) 2.96 (.99) 3.04 (.97) 18.89 <.001
PTC 228.91 (29.49) 246.77 (32.64) 227.00 (37.25) 235.01 (34.86) 3.63 .062
(N ¼ 29) (N ¼ 31) F(1, 55)
DASS 15.15 (12.08) 11.72 (10.63) 18.00 (16.51) 17.29 (15.73) 2.49 .121
PPC problem 4.73 (3.37) 3.76 (3.30) 5.16 (4.22) 4.55 (3.18) .893 .349
RQI 35.58 (7.37) 36.41 (5.64) 37.11 (6.88) 35.16 (7.53) 4.83 .032
Note. Pre ¼ pre-intervention; Post ¼ post-intervention for Group Triple P and second assessment for WL; F ¼ ANCOVA univariate effect for condition; PS ¼ Parenting Scale;
PTC ¼ Parenting Tasks Checklist; DASS ¼ Depression Anxiety Stress Scale; PPC ¼ Parent Problem Checklist; RQI ¼ Relationship Quality Index.
Reliable change and effect sizes at post-intervention.
Measure Condition % Reliable change
Effect size (d)
ECBI intensity Intervention 30.3 (10/33) .30
Waitlist .0 (0/37)
ECBI problem Intervention 34.4 (11/32) .42
Waitlist 2.9 (1/34)
PS laxness Intervention 12.1 (4/33) .70
Waitlist 2.7 (1/37)
PS verbosity Intervention 15.6 (5/32) 1.16
Waitlist .0 (0/37)
PS over-reactivity Intervention 24.2 (8/33) .51
Waitlist 5.4 (2/37)
Note. ECBI ¼ Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory; PS ¼ Parenting Scale;
n1 ¼ participants reliably improved; n2 ¼ all participants with available post-inter-
A. Morawska, M. Sanders / Behaviour Research and Therapy 47 (2009) 463–470468
family adjustment variables. Further research is needed with
a more severe clinical sample to address the issue of how efﬁca-
cious the program is as a treatment intervention for high-risk
children. Secondly, the lack of signiﬁcant ﬁndings for teacher data
and for parent reported emotional symptoms points to the
importance of further examination of the efﬁcacy of the inter-
vention for these aspects with children with varying behavioural
and emotional difﬁculties. It may be that the intervention is
effective for addressing emotional or peer problems, however,
parents and teachers in this sample did not report signiﬁcant
concerns in these types of problems at pre-intervention. While the
eligibility criteria included the parent being concerned about their
child’s behaviour, clearly these concerns were not evident within
the school context for most children. A sample with behavioural
and emotional difﬁculties at home and at school would be
required to provide evidence for the generalisability of interven-
tion outcomes to the school setting. Finally, the sample size was
relatively small, and reﬂected the difﬁculty of recruiting a sample
of parents of gifted children, where the child had been objectively
identiﬁed as gifted, and where the parent was concerned about
the child’s behaviour. Anecdotally, many parents who contacted
the program requested referral information for assessments, in
cases where their child had not been previously assessed. When
followed up many of these parents had sought an assessment, but
in approximately half of the cases, the child was assessed as not
within the gifted range. As a result of the small sample size, it was
not feasible to conduct analyses comparing clinically elevated
versus non-elevated children, however, it is noteworthy that
intervention effects were demonstrated despite initially mild to
moderate levels of difﬁculty.
The results of this study provide support for the efﬁcacy of Triple
P for parents of gifted children, a unique population which has to
date received minimal attention in the research literature. Given
the paucity of methodologically sound research in the literature on
parenting gifted children, these results provide a signiﬁcant
contribution with the potential to inform delivery of parenting
support to this population. Many parents of gifted children identify
a need for tailored parenting support, however, to date no empir-
ically supported interventions have been evaluated for this pop-
ulation. In addition, parents of gifted children are often concerned
about whether strategies used for typically developing children will
work for their child, a concern that was frequently aired by parents
attending groups in this study. For example, many parents voiced
the opinion that their gifted child could ‘see through praise’ and
that this was not an effective intervention. The results of this study
support the utility of behavioural parenting intervention for
parents of gifted children, and demonstrate that with minimal
tailoring and modiﬁcation, parents are able to implement the
strategies at home, and ﬁnd the intervention acceptable and
helpful. Furthermore, the intervention was relatively brief, con-
sisting of six group sessions and three telephone consultations,
however, potentially shorter interventions may also be appropriate
for parents with mild to moderate difﬁculties.
This research was supported by a research grant from the Telstra
Foundation. We would like to acknowledge the work of Emma
Sanders and Lorna Hobbs in assisting with the project.
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