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Program Description

Parents Matter! Theoretical Foundation

Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory, developed by Albert Bandura in the 1970s, emphasizes the role of external reinforcement, expectations, self-efficacy, and behavioral outcomes in learning, performance, and maintenance of behaviors. One notable aspect of the theory is the prominence of behavior modeling in the creation of learning and behaviors. The Parents Matter! Program uses the principles of social learning theory to guide parents in their goal of preventing problem behaviors in their children. Parents are encouraged to provide supportive environments, positive reinforcements for competence-promoting (therefore, risk-reducing) behaviors, and to supervise their children's activities to reduce their contact with poor role models.
Problem Behavior Theory
Problem behavior theory emphasizes the interaction between the environment and the adolescent in the development of risky behaviors. Risky sexual behavior is just one behavior that is influenced not only by the child's surroundings but also by the child's own psychological risk or resource factors, such as motivation, self-esteem, and expectations. The Parents Matter! Program seeks to bolster children's competence by enhancing the social context of the family and providing parents with the skills to reinforce positive behavior, as well as the ability to structure the child's social environment to reduce opportunities for engaging in problem behaviors.
Theory of Reasoned Action
The theory of reasoned action posits that much of behavior is cognitively determined. Behavior is a function of behavioral intentions, though many factors may interfere with the intention to behavior relationship. Social norms and other people's expectations may present two sources of interference. For example, adolescents are often swayed by the attitudes and behaviors of their peers. The Parents Matter! Program attempts to modify adolescent attitudes and norms by providing parents with the skills to communicate their own attitudes and norms, thereby providing their children with a standard. The goal is that the children will then incorporate their parents' values and norms into their own attitudes and behaviors.
Social Cognitive Theory
Bandura's social cognitive theory emphasizes the role self-efficacy in a person's desire to perform a behavior. Self-efficacy reflects not only a person's actual competence to perform a behavior, but also his or her confidence regarding performing the behavior. For adolescents, the Parents Matter! Program works to increase self-efficacy by promoting open and well-informed dialogue between parents and children. For parents, the Program seeks to increase self-efficacy in their ability to communicate with their children about sexual topics.

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Parents Matter

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