Program Background

The Coping Power Program grew out of an earlier empirically-supported program, the Anger Coping Program. The Anger Coping Program was also school-based, and produced lower levels of substance use than a control group at a three-year follow-up. However, this program only had a component for children, and some of the children’s other behavioral gains had ebbed by the time of follow-up. The Coping Power Program was developed to take advantage of the encouraging preventive effects of the Anger Coping Program, by expanding on the child-focused intervention and adding a behavioral parent-training component.

Intervention Overview

Coping Power is delivered to parents and their children in the late elementary to early middle school years (generally 5th and 6th grades). The program consists of two components (Parent Focus and Child Focus) designed to impact four variables identified as predicting substance abuse (lack of social competence, poor self-regulation and self-control, poor bonding with school, and poor caregiver involvement with child).

The Coping Power Child component focuses on: (a) establishing group rules and contingent reinforcement; (b) generating alternative solutions and considering the consequences of alternative solutions to social problems; (c) viewing modeling videotapes of children becoming aware of physiological arousal when angry, using self-statements and using the complete set of problem-solving skills with social problems; (d) planning and making their own videotape of inhibitory self-statements and social problem-solving with problems of their own choice; (e) coping with anxiety and anger arousal (using self-statements and relaxation); (f) addressing accurate identification of social problems involving provocation and peer pressure to participate in drug use (focus on attributions, cue recall, and understanding of others' and own goals); (g) increasing social skills, involving methods of entering new peer groups and using positive peer networks (focus on negotiation and cooperation on structured and unstructured interactions with peers); (h) coping with peer pressure to use drugs; and (i) increasing their study and organizational skills.

The Coping Power Parent component includes learning skills for (a) identifying prosocial and disruptive behavioral targets in their children, (b) rewarding appropriate child behaviors, (c) giving effective instructions and establishing age-appropriate rules and expectations, (d) applying effective consequences to negative child behavior, (e) managing child behavior outside the home, and (f) establishing on-going family communication structures in the home. The parents in Coping Power learn additional skills that support the social-cognitive and problem-solving skills that their children learn in the Child component. Parents also receive stress management training in two of the sessions.

Theoretical Rationale

Coping Power relies on a contextual social-cognitive model that focuses on contextual parenting processes and children's sequential cognitive processes. It is specifically designed to target aggression and aggressive children. Difficulties processing incoming social information and accurately interpreting social events and the intentions of others, produce cognitive distortions in aggressive children at the appraisal stage of social-cognitive processing. This contributes to cognitive deficiencies in problem solving by generating maladaptive solutions and non-normative expectations. This model also addresses parenting processes, such as inconsistent discipline and low parental involvement, in problem behavior.

Areas of Influence

Domain Protective Factors Risk Factors
Individual Emotional regulation Aggressive behavior
Social problem solving Unregulated anger
Appropriate attributions
Internal Locus of Control
Family Parental involvement Hardsh punishment
Consistent discpline Lack of parental warmth
School Academic competence Behavioral problems
School bonding
Peers Social acceptance Social rejection
Deviant Peers