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Extending Evidence-based Social Skills Training to Young Children

SBIR phase II

Project Info

Project Description

NIMH
ID: 2R44MH077363-02
PI: JANEY MCMILLEN, PHD
TERM: 04/08 – 04/11

As children enter preschool and begin to navigate social situations outside the home, problem behaviors and related social difficulties may be more apparent, placing children at risk for difficult peer relationships. Without intervention, social and behavioral problems tend to persist and even escalate over time and can impact the development of child psychopathology and other negative outcomes. In contrast, positive social relationships serve as a protective factor, promoting more positive developmental outcomes for children. Prevention and treatment research supports the use of social skills training for improving children’s peer relations, social behavior, and emotional adjustment. Early intervention is critical in the prevention of severe social skills deficits and negative peer interaction patterns.

3-C ISD’s S.S.GRIN-EC (Social Skills Group Intervention for Early Childhood; children ages 4-6 years) is an adaptation of S.S.GRIN, a social skills training program for school-aged children. S.S.GRIN-EC is an innovative intervention program designed to enhance the social skills, emotional competencies, and social relationships of young children. S.S.GRIN-EC includes a skill-based curriculum aimed at enhancing social skills competencies through in-session activities, multi-media resources, and parent handouts that bridge the intervention setting with home efforts to promote social and emotional functioning.

In prior Phase I funding to develop S.S.GRIN-EC, feasibility testing results provided substantial support for continued development of the intervention, as well as essential constructive feedback that informed the direction of this development (e.g., adding more developmental considerations to the program; adding visual supports to help non-readers; decreasing reading level in parental materials). School- and community-based professionals and parents strongly endorsed the quality of the S.S.GRIN-EC intervention and recommended further development and testing.

In Phase II, the finalized S.S.GRIN-EC curriculum underwent a rigorous efficacy trial to evaluate the effects of the 12-session intervention. The sample consisted of 70 children who were randomly assigned to either S.S.GRIN-EC treatment (n = 35) or wait-list control (n = 35) conditions. Children who were randomly assigned to the wait list condition were offered a chance to participate in an S.S.GRIN-EC group at the conclusion of the study. Before and after the intervention, parents of children in both conditions completed behavioral rating scales on their child’s social and behavioral functioning and children participated in a brief individual assessment.

Efficacy of the intervention was examined by comparing pre- and post-intervention data. The results indicated children in the S.S.GRIN-EC groups showed greater improvement in their social skills and emotion regulation. The magnitude of these effects was moderate to large with a half to over three quarters standard deviation in improvement in functioning as a result of treatment. These findings support the value of implementing this intervention with young children who are experiencing social difficulties and are consistent with previous research indicating that young children can benefit from intervention in the social-emotional domain.

S.S.GRIN-EC is now available for purchase. To learn more or to purchase S.S.GRIN-EC, visit 3C Marketplace.

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