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Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT)

Ages 6-11

Rating: Level 1


Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) is a research-based intervention program designed to prevent the development of aggressive and antisocial behaviors in children within the elementary school setting (particularly first graders and fifth graders).

LIFT was informed by scientific research on the development of delinquency—specifically coercion theory (for more details, see Patterson, 1982, or Patterson, Reid, and Dishion, 1992). As such, LIFT is designed to decrease the likelihood of two major factors that put children at risk for subsequent antisocial behavior and delinquency: 1) aggressive and other socially incompetent behaviors with teachers and peers at school and 2) ineffective parenting, including inconsistent and inappropriate discipline and lax supervision. LIFT has three main components: 1) classroom-based child social skills training, 2) the playground Good Behavior Game, and 3) parent management training. These efforts are fortified by systematic communication between teachers and parents. To facilitate communication, a “LIFT line” is implemented in each classroom. The LIFT line is a phone and an answering machine in each classroom that families are encouraged to use if they have any questions for the teachers or have concerns that they wish to share.

Child social skills training sessions are held during the regular school day and are broken into distinct segments. The first segment includes 1) classroom instruction and discussion about specific social and problem-solving skills, 2) skills practice in small and large groups, 3) free play in the context of a group cooperation game, and 4) review and presentation of daily rewards. The second segment includes a formal class problem-solving session and free play and rewards. The curriculum is similar for all elementary school students, but delivery format, group exercises, and content emphasis are modified to address normative developmental issues depending on the grade level of the participants.

The playground Good Behavior Game takes place during the middle of the free-play portion of the social skills training and is used to actively encourage positive peer relations on the playground. During the game, rewards are earned by individual children for demonstrating positive problem-solving skills and other prosocial behaviors with peers as well as for the inhibition of negative behaviors.

Parent Management Training in LIFT is conducted in groups of 10 to 15 parents and consists of six weekly 2½-hour sessions. Sessions can provide training either after school or in the evenings. Session content concentrates on positive reinforcement, discipline, monitoring, problem solving, and parent involvement in the school. Communication is fostered throughout the school year.


LIFT was evaluated using a population-based, randomized, intervention trial. Twelve schools were selected at random to participate as either a prevention (n=6) or enrichment (n=6) school. These schools were located in neighborhoods with higher-than-average rates of juvenile crime from the Eugene/Springfield, Ore., region. All first and fifth grade classrooms within each school participated (32 classrooms total). Participants included 671 first and fifth graders, their families, and their teachers. Participants were largely from white, lower to middle socioeconomic backgrounds. The prevention school participants (n=382) received LIFT. The enrichment school participants (n=289) joined in the assessment-only phase of the program.

The effectiveness of the intervention was evaluated using a pretest–posttest assessment with yearly follow-up. During each assessment, children, parents, and teachers were interviewed and completed a variety of paper-and-pencil questionnaires. Additionally, school and court records were collected, children were observed in the classroom and on the playground, and parents and children were observed during family problem-solving discussions at home or at the research center.


Preliminary evidence suggests that LIFT can be a useful tool for promoting effective parenting in the home and decreasing aggressive behaviors with peers at school and on the playground. In comparison with the control group, LIFT participants exhibited a decrease in child physical aggression toward classmates on the playground, an increase in teachers’ positive impressions of child social skills with classmates, and a decrease in parents’ aversive behavior during family problem-solving discussions.

Postintervention results revealed that observed aggressive behavior on the LIFT playgrounds decreased from a mean of 6.0 aversive physical behaviors per 30-minute recess period to only 4.8 aversive behaviors per 30 minutes. Following the intervention period, the children in the control group continued to average 6.6 aversive behaviors per 30 minutes. Results 3 years postintervention revealed that relative to fifth grade youths in the LIFT group, fifth grade youths in the control group were 2.2 times as likely to affiliate with misbehaving peers, 1.8 times as likely to be involved in patterned alcohol use, 1.5 times as likely to have tried marijuana, and 2.4 times as likely to be arrested by age 14.

Fidelity of implementation was high for all program components. For the parent component, while only about one third of families in the program participated in the group format, rates of participation were bolstered by multiple delivery modes (group, individual, home visits, mail).

An in-depth analysis of the programmatic effects of LIFT on physical aggression on the school playground indicated that the program seemed to have the greatest impact on children in the interventional group who were highest in aggressive behaviors initially. Analyses of LIFT outcomes suggest that major reductions in aggressive behavior in schools could be accomplished by concentrating on changing the environmental determinants of aggressive behavior. Special care and attention were given to averting methodological problems associated with variance owing to properties of the measures or the raters.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Early onset of aggression and/or violence
  • Victimization and exposure to violence


  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Parental use of physical punishment/Harsh and/or erratic discipline practices
  • Pattern of high family conflict


  • Inadequate school climate/Poorly organized and functioning schools/Negative labeling by teachers
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • High expectations
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Effective parenting
  • Good relationships with parents / Bonding or attachment to family


  • High quality schools / Clear standards and rules


  • High expectations
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults


  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


  • OJJDP: Blueprints
  • SAMHSA: Model Programs
  • HHS: Surgeon General
  • Department of Education


Eddy, J. Mark, John B. Reid, and Rebecca A. Fetrow. 2000. “An Elementary School–Based Prevention Program Targeting Modifiable Antecedents of Youth Delinquency and Violence: Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT).” Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 8(3):165–76.

Patterson, Gerald R. 1982. Coercive Family Process. Eugene, Ore.: Castalia.

Patterson, Gerald R., John B. Reid, and Thomas J. Dishion. 1992. Antisocial Boys. Eugene, Ore.: Castalia.

Reid, John B., J. Mark Eddy, Rebecca A. Fetrow, and Mike Stoolmiller. 1999. “Description and Immediate Impacts of a Preventive Intervention for Conduct Problems.” American Journal of Community Psychology 27(4):483–517.

Stoolmiller, Mike, J. Mark Eddy, and John B. Reid. 2000. “Detecting and Describing Preventive Intervention Effects in a Universal School-Based Randomized Trial Targeting Delinquent and Violent Behavior.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 68:296–306.


John B. Reid, Ph.D.
Oregon Social Learning Center
160 East Fourth Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401
Phone: (541) 485-2711
Fax: (541) 485-7087
Web site:

Technical Assistance Provider

Rebecca A. Fetrow
Oregon Social Learning Center
160 East Fourth Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401
Web site: