We developed a comprehensive training program to teach young parents what symptoms to look for to judge the severity of their children's illnesses, what to do at home to comfort their children, and when to consult their children's physician or take them for emergency treatment. Three pairs of subjects received training that included written handouts, verbal instructions, modeling, positive practice, and verbal reinforcement. Skill acquisition was assessed by a behavioral test in which parents assessed, treated, or reported a simulated illness in a child. Written materials when used alone did not improve the parent's ability to identify and report children's illnesses. Modeling and role-playing followed by positive practice were successful in teaching these parents skills that were maintained for 3 months without additional training or instruction.
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