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What Is Teacher-Child Interaction Training?

Teaching techniques to manage disruptive behavior in the classroom 

Melanie A. Fernandez, PhD, ABPP

Clinical Psychologist, formerly with the ADHD and Disruptive Behavior Disorders Center
Child Mind Institute

Teacher-Child Interaction Training, or TCIT, is a school-based variant of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT. Where PCIT seeks to improve a strained parent-child relationship and use it to reduce problem behaviors in a child, TCIT uses the disciplinary techniques and findings of PCIT to help teachers manage difficult students and classrooms.

In TCIT, clinicians train teachers on how to speak to their students and react to desired and undesired behavior. Central to TCIT are what we call PRIDE skills that guide a teacher's response to desired behavior, promoting positive interactions with students. These PRIDE skills are: Praise appropriate behavior; Reflect appropriate speech; Imitate and Describe appropriate behavior; and be Enthusiastic. Teachers use PRIDE on the opposite of inappropriate behavior to give concrete examples of good behavior. They also praise or describe appropriate behavior of students during another student's misbehavior, which often motivates improvement.

Teachers also learn to state explicitly what positive or negative consequences are associated with a behavior. One key is the use of "when-then" and "if-then" statements: for example, "When you raise your hand, then I can call on you," or "If you don't color on your paper, then I will have to put the crayons away." When consequences come, they are contextually relevant, so children know exactly why.

The goal of TCIT is not only a well-behaved class but a positive relationship between student and teacher that can benefit the learning process.

Trainers do live coaching of TCIT skills with teachers in class with students, and evaluate teacher-child interactions to determine the efficacy of the training based on standardized scales. TCIT has a growing evidence base.

More and more, studies are showing that the use of TCIT skills in the classroom reduces disruptive and aggressive behavior while increasing compliance. In addition, teachers report a high degree of satisfaction with the training.

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