Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Kathy Bradley-Klug, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Heather Agazzi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jillian Childres, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


behavior, early childood, individual, intervention


Many parents of young children across the United States are increasingly impacted by their children’s display of early childhood challenging behavior. Common examples of these behaviors include feeding difficulties, tantrums, whining, crying, and noncompliance (Barbarian, 2007; Hemmeter et al., 2014; Spencer & Coe, 2003). Though the relationship between early childhood behavior problems and future outcomes may not be causal, researchers have consistently concluded that if left unaddressed, children who demonstrate early challenging behavior are likely to experience some difficulties in academic achievement, sociability, school readiness, and mental health (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2002; Turney & McLanahan, 2015). Behavioral parent training (BPT) is the primary intervention recommended to address challenging behavior (Maughan et al., 2005). Existing research suggests that caregivers who receive parent training have reported decreases in their children’s problem behavior and increases in the competence and ability to meaningfully handle their children’s behavior (Gross et al., 1995; Sanders et al., 2008). Yet, although there are several types of parenting programs and evidence to support their utility, very few programs are delivered one-on-one in the caregivers’ household. As such, this study utilized a sample of three caregivers in west-central Florida to examine the effectiveness of the HOT DOCS Guide for Weekly Early Intervention Sessions (i.e., HOT DOCS EI) BPT program. Because this intervention program is newly developed, there is currently no evidence to support its effectiveness. Thus, this study utilized a multiple baseline design to assess changes in child behavior and caregiver stress over time to determine whether or not the program was effective as decreasing challenging behavior and caregiver stress. Caregiver reports of their parenting skills and positive parent child relationships also were also assessed. Finally, information regarding caregivers’ overall perceptions of the effectiveness of the program were evaluated. Visual analyses, effect sizes, and descriptive statistics were conducted to answer the research questions. Findings did not demonstrate replicated treatment effects regarding the effectiveness of the HOT DOCS EI program at decreasing child challenging behavior and caregiver stress. However, therapeutic treatment effects were indicated given that childhood challenging behavior and parental stress decreased by the end of the program. Results also indicate that parents were highly satisfied with the HOT DOCS EI program overall. Information obtained from study findings and implementation of the program can be used to assist program developers with refinement and improvement of the program measures, tools, and procedures. Additionally, future research should utilize additional participants and more rigorous research methods in order to provide in-depth and higher quality data regarding treatment effects.