Psychometric Evaluation of a Brief Assessment of Parents’ Disciplinary Alternatives

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Graduate School of Social Work


Parental discipline practices, Children, Parents, Nonphysical discipline



The majority of strategies designed to assess parental discipline practices typically focus on ineffective or adverse discipline options. When more comprehensive measures are utilized, parents are often expressly asked to report their use of nonphysical discipline options but such an approach signals to parents that they should report implementing such choices, thereby rendering it susceptible to social desirability.


Rather than cueing parents with possible discipline options, the Production of Discipline Alternatives (PDA) is a very brief parent-report coding scheme of the discipline options parents freely generate to an open-ended question after reading a short vignette. The current study investigated the inter-rater reliability and stability as well as concurrent and predictive validity from the coding of this brief qualitative prompt using three waves of longitudinal data collected from mothers and fathers (prenatally, child age 6 months, and child age 18 months).


Findings demonstrated strong inter-rater reliability (between independent coders) and stability of discipline alternatives provided by parents across nearly two years. Concurrent and predictive validity were also observed; specifically, mothers and fathers who generated proportionally more physical discipline options were more likely to approve of physical discipline, to be inclined to punish perceived misbehavior, to prefer authoritarian parenting approaches, to evidence greater child abuse risk, and to report more frequent use of physical discipline.


The current findings imply the PDA may have research utility as well as potential value in screenings at primary and integrated care settings relevant for prevention and intervention efforts.

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