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#58: The Teaching-Family Model is relationship focused

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The Teaching-Family Model is all about changing child behavior by creating healthy relationships that encourage teaching and growth.

What is the Teaching-Family Model? The Teaching-Family Model is an evidence-based model to create change. The Teaching-Family Model started in the 1950s by researchers at Kanas State who set out to see what successful parents did and if that could be replicated. What they discovered is that parenting and behavior skills could be taught and be effective. The Teaching-Family Model is used by agencies around the world in group homes, foster care, in-home services, schools, and various other agencies that work with families and children.

The Teaching-Family Model focuses on what it takes to build strong relationships as they found that when relationships are healthy, correction and change are possible. All behavior skills found in the Teaching-Family Model and on SmarterParenting.com, all include an element of relationship-building–even the ones geared toward correcting negative behaviors.

The ultimate goal of all behavior skills is to build strong relationships while changing behavior! The Teaching-Family Model has changed so many families and can change yours if you’re willing to put the time and effort in.!

You are not alone! SmarterParenting is here to help you deal with the challenges your family faces. Sign-up for a free 15-minute mini-coaching session today where we can talk specifically about what your family needs and what behavior skills will help you!

To learn more about the agencies world-wide that are using the Teaching-Family Model visit: https://www.teaching-family.org/

For more information about how Smarter Parenting uses the Teaching-Family Model, visit the episode podcast page on SmarterParenting.com


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Episode Transcript

This is episode 58.

In this podcast, we will be talking about the Teaching-Family Model and exploring a little bit about its history.

Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.

Hello, my friends. How are you? How are you? Friends, friends, friends. I’m doing great actually and today I am going to be talking about the Teaching-Family Model. Over the last couple of weeks, we have been talking a lot about skills, parenting skills. All of those skills come from the Teaching-Family Model. And the Teaching-Family Model is The Model that we use to work with children in helping to shape their behaviors. And I’m sure a lot of you have questions about what it is, how it came to be and where it’s being implemented around the world and its effectiveness. Obviously, you want to know those things, right?

So I’m going to be reading some of the information that I have here on the Teaching-Family Model even though I’ve been a part of the Teaching-Family Model for a long time now. But, I want you to get and grasp the depth at which this model really has the chops to shape and change behaviors with children of all different types of ages and different issues that they may be facing.

So to begin, the Teaching-Family Model is a model of care for troubled youth and it’s used internationally, in group homes, foster care, schools, home-based treatments, and other youth independent adult care programs. Really the breadth of where the Teaching-Family Model is being implemented, it is being implemented in a ton of places, in a lot of places and with a lot of different populations.

The Model itself, the Teaching-Family Model was developed in the 1960s through research at the University of Kansas. And the researchers of two people who are actually well known in the field of behavioral studies, Montrose Wolf and also Gary Timbers.

Now you may not know this but Montrose Wolf, or Mont Wolf, was the inventor of time-out as a learning tool to shape behavior. Now time-out has evolved over time and people have put in different meanings in there. However, he was the creator of it in helping to shape behaviors.

So we’re talking about two very accomplished professionals in the field of learning how to shape and adjust behaviors, specifically in children. The Teaching-Family Model has been modeled over 800 times since the 1960s until now, so it has actually been around for a long time being used by a lot of different groups of people and its foundations started with two researchers who are really, really well known in the field of behavioral sciences. Now one of the things that makes this model really beautiful is that it actually focuses on humane and respectful practices and ensure the safety and wellbeing and the rights of the people who are being served or the child that’s being served.

It’s effective treatment that has measurable outcomes and achieves child, youth, adult and family goals. It can be individualized treatment that meets social, emotional, cognitive and developmental needs. It’s trauma-informed to understand and responding to the individual life experiences and also with the Teaching-Family Model, there is a component of quality assurance in the way that it’s being delivered. And we’ll talk a little bit about that.

The 1960s. At that time there was a lot going on as far as trying to understand human behavior, how to shape it. I mean really there’s a lot of information that has come out and studies that were done and performed during that time, during the 1960s for the Teaching-Family Model. They were studying how they could change the behavior of children who had been removed from their homes and placed in a group home. So group home is where these children who were involved in the court system were placed because of behavioral issues that their parents couldn’t manage them at home. And so they studied and they evaluated what worked well in changing the behaviors of children over time.

And what they were able to discover is there were certain approaches and certain things that treatment parents would do that help to foster a relationship of trust, that helped to establish communication and mutual respect. And then, in turn, had children responding in positive ways to instruction and the structure that was in the home, in the group home. And they took all of that data and they began to replicate it and see if it could be replicated in other areas.

And as they did this study, they started to notice patterns and these patterns evolved into skills. And that’s the skills that we use here in Smarter Parenting. And those are the skills that I have been talking about in previous podcasts. Super amazing that this over time has evolved and we’ve been able to gather information to see what works well, how do we communicate with children effectively?

Well, there are steps that these parents did with these kids in order to shape their behaviors. And so we’ve taken those steps and we’ve made them very apparent and very applicable. So you can use those steps in your own communications with your children. What are ways that we can praise our children more effectively, okay? So there existed this idea that we just communicate with our children. And then the Teaching-Family Model has this other side where it’s like, well, let’s effectively communicate with our children and let’s use what’s worked best with the most difficult children in resolving their issues. And let’s figure out what the components need to be there in order for this communication to happen.

Same thing happens with praise. Let’s praise all our children, general praise. Yeah, that’s great. But the Teaching-Family Model teaches us how we can Effectively Praise children so they can repeat positive behaviors.

So we want our children to Follow Instructions, okay, do what we say. Well, Teaching-Family Model has Following Instructions as a skill. These are the things you need to do as a parent and follow these steps in order to help your child Follow Instructions more effectively. And to do so in a humane and caring and loving way that focuses on building and strengthening relationships. Okay. So again, we have made very specific and given parents a guideline on what they can do in order to improve skills that they probably are already doing, but in a more conscious way. And in a more intentional way.

It’s the difference between being a parent who is doing well an intentional parent who’s actually intentionally doing things in very specific ways to help their child. So we want parents to be very cognizant, very intentional, very specific in the way that they approach their children and train them.

Now I wanted to talk about the different programs or different groups that the Teaching-Family Model is being used with. Initially, it started with group homes and group homes again or places where children had to be removed from their families in order to be safe. And so children going into group homes would receive treatment and it continues to this day. There are group homes that still use the Teaching-Family Model as the approach with the intention of having the children returned back to their families so they can be managed and live with their families.

And so not a permanent setting that they’re stuck in a group home, but there are skills that they needed to learn it in order to function well within their own families. Family homes, Teaching-Family Model is being used in family homes, still happening today around the country and around the world. So it’s being used there.

It also has been translated to be used in foster care homes where a child is in the home temporarily with a foster parent and they’re using these skills to help these children learn how to interact and how to behave in foster care with the intention of them being placed back with their parents or with adoptive parents. So fantastic application to what you’re doing in a restrictive environments and then the less restrictive environments.

Another area where the Teaching-Family Model is being used is in home-based treatment. A home-based treatment means that somebody actually goes into the home of a family and they start teaching these skills to help the family stay together. That’s where I come from. I come from that area of home-based treatment. So my job was to go into homes and work with parents and children in their home teaching these skills from the Teaching-Family Model with the intention of keeping them together and helping them get along better.

Sometimes court-ordered, sometimes not, mostly court ordered in my case. But I would go in and actually work with parents and children in their homes to prevent them from moving into foster care or moving into even more restrictive group home. Now the Teaching-Family Model is also being used in schools. Yes. So in educational settings, you’ll have teachers using these skills with the kids that are in the school to students, and these skills again, are transferable to home life, to work-life to school, and so it really does cover such a broad range of helping children gather the skills they need to be successful wherever they may be.

The Teaching-Family Model is also being used in mental health programs. So in psychiatric, in inpatient settings, short-term crisis, emergency placements, outpatient clinics. This is being used in multiple places. The Teaching-Family Model is an effective model that you can use to teach very specific skills to these patients so they can use and implement in their lives, even in crisis modes.

Currently, it’s also being used with adults with developmental disabilities. So interesting to see this realm of different populations actually using this model as a way to address behaviors.

So the agency that I worked for, which is a Utah Youth Village, we use The Model and we are only one of a lot of different agencies that use the Teaching-Family Model. We refer to it as The Model because it’s shorter than saying the Teaching-Family Model, but it is the Teaching-Family Model. But we’re only one agency of many around the world that use the Teaching-Family Model.

Definitely want to keep that in mind that this is being used by a lot of different people who are working with children, shaping behaviors and families, but in a lot of different settings. So you have group homes, you have foster care, you have home-based placement, you have schools, you have adults with disabilities, you have crisis centers, they’re all using this model and it’s being used around the world.

So here in the United States, Albania, Australia, different places. I taught these skills as well in Uganda, in Africa for a time. So it’s kind of amazing to see these skills being implemented and embraced in different places. There is an agency in New Zealand as well that is using this with the Maori people, the indigenous people of New Zealand. After doing a lot of research, this was the only model they found that was respectful of their culture that they could implement and place in their cultural consistency of what is culturally appropriate for the Maori people.

So it’s really interesting to kind of see how far this has reached since the 1960s and who is using this? There’s a quote that I want to share from Tom Berman. He’s the director at Berry Street in Australia and he talks about the Teaching-Family Model. He says, “The Teaching-Family Model standards give us a great focus to achieve best quality of care, a framework to work with, to set a high bar for what we want to achieve and holds us all to account in every part of the agency.”

It’s great. It’s being used all over the place, right? And that’s fantastic, but how do we know it’s being used to the utmost fidelity of what was intended initially? Well, in the 1970s an organization was created called The Teaching-Family Association. The job of The Teaching-Family Association is to accredit agencies who are using the Teaching-Family Model to be sure that they’re using it correctly.

This agency, that is their goal, is to be sure that it’s being used effectively and to the utmost fidelity of the Teaching-Family Model standards. And it requires other people coming in looking and seeing what you’re doing, how you’re implementing things, offering feedback and suggestions. One of the things that I love about the Teaching-Family Model is that it creates this environment that is completely open for feedback. In fact, I receive feedback daily, weekly, monthly, all the time.

And the way that it’s created is that it allows us to continually grow because there is this idea that hey, I am working with people and people have feedback they want to give me and I need to find ways to adjust and adapt to the feedback that I’m receiving in order to improve. Because we’re all in it to improve ourselves and also the world and the children that we work with.

There are quality assurance systems that are in place in order to be sure an agency is using this to the utmost fidelity. The Utah Youth Village, for example, receives reviews and they have people coming in from The Teaching-Family Association to be sure that we are using The Model the way that it was intended to be used. And it’s not easy actually to become accredited through The Teaching-Family Association. You have to go through evaluations. You have people coming in, you have reviews, interviews, and they do this consistently.

This isn’t something that you become accredited and then you are accredited for life. No, you have to, you become accredited and then over time you’re continually accredited and you have to maintain a certain level of fidelity towards the Teaching-Family Model.

Hey, you’re probably wondering why I’m sharing all this information with you. But the reason I’m sharing it with you is because it is super important for you to understand that what we are sharing here as Smarter Parenting isn’t something that was invented yesterday. This is something that has existed for a long time, has served a lot of people and has been effective in providing care. I am only sharing information and knowledge that has already been tried and tested by hundreds, thousands of people and it’s proven to be effective.

It can be effective for you too as a parent, specifically with children with ADHD. As you know, this is being used in various agencies with various populations. It’s also effective for children with ADHD. So you want to take these skills and you want to use them and in addressing your child who has ADHD, you’re going to find that a lot of the skills help them to refocus on the things that are important. It helps you remove the emotional response that you may have to your child’s misbehavior. It also gives you a framework on what you can do and what you should be doing in order to continually build a strong relationship with your child. Because we don’t want misbehavior to be the dividing wedge between you and your child. We want them to be able to learn from their misbehavior and adopt new, more positive behaviors.

That’s our whole intention and to maintain and retain and continue on with the strong relationships that you and your child should be having as they continually grow, right? That’s kind of an overview of the Teaching-Family Model, agencies that are using it, the importance of it. I just want you to know you are not alone. You’re not alone in what you’re doing and we are sharing this with you because we care, we care about you, we care about you and your child. We care that you’re successful. We here at Smarter Parenting believe that the best is yet to come for the generations to come. And that all depends on our ability to help them realize their full potential.

And I’ve seen it happen hundreds and hundreds of times that the families that I’ve worked with that these skills really do make a huge difference, not only in the satisfaction of a child, in their relationship with their parent, but also in the parent’s ability to form and bond with their children.

If anything, jump over to the Smarter Parenting website and look through the skills. Use the skills. I’ve covered the skills in depth in previous podcasts. Go back and listen to them. ffecEtive Communication, Effective Praise, Observe and Describe. All of those skills are meant to build relationships and to help shape your child’s behavior in positive ways, but they’re founded in the Teaching-Family Model, which has been around for decades and is being used around the world by successful agencies and parents to help children succeed.

That’s it for me for now. You’ll hear again from me soon. I have so much more to share with you and a lot to share with you about ADHD in children with ADHD as well as additional parenting techniques and strategies. If you haven’t signed up for a mini-session, sign up for a mini-session. Let’s talk, me and you, one-on-one. Let’s talk about what’s happening and let’s address some of the issues that are happening and put some skills into place that you can use and implement to help shape your child’s behavior. Take care, have a good one, and I am sending you my best. See you later. Bye bye.


The Teaching-Family Model

The Teaching-Family Association (TFA)

Berry Street, Australian TFA site

Ep #11: What is the Teaching-Family Model

Ep #36: Relationships–the Why of the Teaching-Family Model

Video: The history of the Teaching-Family Model helping families

Episode 11: What is the Teaching-Family Model

Our Teaching-Family Model Family


Behavior skills of the Teaching-Family Model

Ep #46: Understanding the ABC’s of Behavior

Ep #47: Mastering Observe and Describe

Ep #48: What it takes to change behavior

Ep #49: Compound effect of Effective Communication

Ep #50: Changing behavior through praise

Ep #51: Finding Success with Preventive Teaching

Ep #52: How to fix negative behaviors

Ep #53: The importance of Following Instructions

Ep #54: Teaching kids to make better decisions

Ep #55: Reducing bad behavior with Effective Negative Consequences

Ep #56: Reinforcing good behavior using Effective Positive Rewards

Ep #57: Teaching kids to Accept No Answers without issue


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Podcast Transcript

The transcript text is below. You can also download the PDF file of the transcript here.