Skip Navigation

Play and Learning Strategies (PALS)

Yes (PALS Infant only)

Last Updated: October 2012

In Brief for Positive Parenting Practices Outcomes

Impact Studies Rated High


Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., & Swank, P. R. (2006). Responsive parenting: Establishing early foundations for social, communication, and independent problem-solving skills. Developmental Psychology, 42(4), 627-42.
Additional Sources:

Guttentag, C. L., Pedrosa-Josic, C., Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., & Swank, P. R. (2006). Individual variability in parenting profiles and predictors of change: Effects of an intervention with disadvantaged mothers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, p. 349-369.

Smith, K.E., Landry, S.H. & Swank, P.R. (2005). The influence of decreased parental resources on the efficacy of a responsive parenting intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(4), pp. 711-720.

Results for PALS Infant (PALS I)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Contingent Responsiveness Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 0.77 Coefficient = 0.99 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.012 Study reported = 0.93 Primary
Harshness of Voice Tone Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 0.07 Coefficient = 0.12 Not applicable Statistically significant, p = 0.022 Study reported = 0.28 Primary
Labeling Actions Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = -8.94 Coefficient = -9.2 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.012 Study reported = 0.63 Primary
Labeling Objects Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = -5.47 Coefficient = -5.86 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.012 Study reported = 0.71 Primary
Maintaining Infant Foci of Attention No Effect PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 13.21 Coefficient = 12.4 Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.081 Study reported = 0.36 Primary
Physical Intrusiveness Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 0.44 Coefficient = 0.51 Not applicable Statistically significant, p = 0.012 Study reported = 0.50 Primary
Redirecting Infant Foci of Attention Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 1.14 Coefficient = 1.57 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.012 Study reported = 1.31 Primary
Verbal Encouragement Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 0.67 Coefficient = 0.24 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.011 Study reported = 0.71 Primary
Verbal Scaffolding Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 0.41 Coefficient = -0.08 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.011 Study reported = 0.79 Primary
Warm Sensitivity Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 0.74 Coefficient = 0.9 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.012 Study reported = 0.49 Primary

1 The p-values are study reported.

2 Lower parameter value indicates a better score. The p-values are study reported.

Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Contingent Responsiveness The degree to which a mother responded promptly and appropriately to her infant's cues was rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Harshness of Voice Tone The degree to which the mother used a harsh and/or impatient tone with her infant, rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.70 Primary
Labeling Actions The frequency with which a mother provided the specific names of actions during the interaction. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.70 for the labeling one action and 0.75 for the labeling of more than one action Primary
Labeling Objects The frequency with which a mother provided the specific names of objects during the interaction. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 for both the labeling of one object and the labeling of more than one object Primary
Maintaining Infant Foci of Attention The frequency with which the mother's behavior helped to sustain her child's current activity. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.81 Primary
Physical Intrusiveness The degree of abruptness in physical interactions such as moving the infant, and physical expressions of impatience. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.45 Primary
Redirecting Infant Foci of Attention The frequency with which the mother's interaction was unrelated to her child's current activity in an attempt to redirect the child's attention. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 Primary
Verbal Encouragement The frequency with which a mother praised her infant's efforts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Verbal Scaffolding The frequency with which a mother provided verbal hints and prompts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.64 Primary
Warm Sensitivity The degree to which the mother was warm and sensitive in her interactions with her infant (e.g., accepting of the infant's needs and interests), rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., Swank, P. R., & Guttentag, C. (2008). A responsive parenting intervention: The optimal timing across early childhood for impacting maternal behaviors and child outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 44(5), 1335-1353.
Results for PALS Infant (PALS I)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Contingent responsiveness No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.51 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Maintaining child foci Favorable PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.062 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = 0.04 Study-reported = 0.32 Primary
Positive affect (of mother with child) No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.34 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Redirecting child foci Unfavorable PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.521 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.05 Not available Primary
Verbal encouragement No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.60 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Verbal scaffolding No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.10 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Warm sensitivity Favorable PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.352 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = 0.02 Study-reported= 0.29 Primary

1 Positive coefficient values indicate an unfavorable outcome.

2 Negative coefficient values favor the intervention group.

Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Contingent responsiveness The degree to which a mother responded promptly and appropriately to her infant's cues, rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Maintaining child foci The frequency with which the mother's behavior helped to sustain her child's current activity. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.81 Primary
Positive affect (of mother with child) The degree to which the mother smiled and laughed during the interaction, rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Redirecting child foci The frequency with which the mother's interaction was unrelated to her child's current activity in an attempt to redirect the child's attention. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 Primary
Verbal encouragement The frequency with which the mother praised her infant's efforts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Verbal scaffolding The frequency with which the mother provided verbal hints and prompts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.64 Primary
Warm sensitivity The degree to which the mother was warm and sensitive in her interactions with her infant (e.g., accepting of the infant's needs and interests), rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Results for PALS Toddler (PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Contingent responsiveness No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.52 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Maintaining child foci No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.03 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Positive affect (of mother with child) No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.15 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Redirecting child foci No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.42 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Verbal encouragement Favorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.411 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p =.01 Study-reported = 0.25 Primary
Verbal scaffolding No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.13 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Warm sensitivity No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.37 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary

1 Negative coefficient values favor the intervention group.

Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Contingent responsiveness The degree to which a mother responded promptly and appropriately to her infant's cues, rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Maintaining child foci The frequency with which the mother's behavior helped to sustain her child's current activity. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.81 Primary
Positive affect (of mother with child) The degree to which the mother smiled and laughed during the interaction, rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Redirecting child foci The frequency with which the mother's interaction was unrelated to her child's current activity in an attempt to redirect the child's attention. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 Primary
Verbal encouragement The frequency with which the mother praised her infant's efforts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Verbal scaffolding The frequency with which the mother provided verbal hints and prompts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.64 Primary
Warm sensitivity The degree to which the mother was warm and sensitive in her interactions with her infant (e.g., accepting of the infant's needs and interests), rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Results for PALS Infant + Toddler (PALS I + PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Contingent responsiveness Favorable PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.64 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = 0.02 Study-reported = 0.51 Primary
Maintaining child foci No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.00 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Positive affect (of mother with child) No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.26 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Redirecting child foci Favorable PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.611 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = 0.01 Study-reported = 0.39 Primary
Verbal encouragement No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.08 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Verbal scaffolding No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.06 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Warm sensitivity No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.34 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary

1 Negative coefficient values indicate a favorable outcome.

Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Contingent responsiveness The degree to which a mother responded promptly and appropriately to her infant's cues, rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Maintaining child foci The frequency with which the mother's behavior helped to sustain her child's current activity. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.81 Primary
Positive affect (of mother with child) The degree to which the mother smiled and laughed during the interaction, rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary
Redirecting child foci The frequency with which the mother's interaction was unrelated to her child's current activity in an attempt to redirect the child's attention. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 Primary
Verbal encouragement The frequency with which the mother praised her infant's efforts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Verbal scaffolding The frequency with which the mother provided verbal hints and prompts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.64 Primary
Warm sensitivity The degree to which the mother was warm and sensitive in her interactions with her infant (e.g., accepting of the infant's needs and interests), rated on a five-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.74 Primary

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., Swank, P. R., Zucker, T., Crawford, A. D., & Solari, E. F. (2011, November 28). The effects of a responsive parenting intervention on parent–child interactions during shared book reading. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026400
Results for PALS Infant (PALS I)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Comments No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.23 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.51 Not available Primary
General verbal support No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.48 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.59 Not available Primary
Language facilitation No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.11 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.41 Not available Primary
Open prompts No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.02 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.87 Not available Primary
Percent time only reading text No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.30 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.26 Not available Primary
Praise and encourage No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.12 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.51 Not available Primary
Responsiveness No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.02 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.35 Not available Primary
Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Comments The frequency with which the child comments on a book. Responses were coded as (1) orients mother's attention without use of label, (2) labels or describes a picture, or (3) makes a connection involving elements of the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.76 Primary
General verbal support The frequency with which the mother used hints and prompts to help her child make connections. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.57 Primary
Language facilitation The frequency with which the mother used verbal strategies to facilitate her child's cognitive-linguistic development. These strategies included expansion, assists, and lead-ins. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
Open prompts The frequency with which the mother asked open-ended questions or made requests that required the child to think more generally about what was happening in the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.84 Primary
Percent time only reading text The length of time during which the mother just read the text of the book. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.72 Primary
Praise and encourage The frequency with which the mother praised or encouraged her infant's efforts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.83 Primary
Responsiveness The degree to which the mother responded promptly and appropriately to her infant's cues and expressed enthusiasm during the book reading interaction, rated on a five-point scale from almost always to almost never. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.70 Primary
Results for PALS Toddler (PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Comments No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.24 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.98 Not available Primary
General verbal support No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.77 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.96 Not available Primary
Language facilitation No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.47 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.13 Not available Primary
Open prompts No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.53 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.27 Not available Primary
Percent time only reading text No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.44 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.07 Not available Primary
Praise and encourage No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.19 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.46 Not available Primary
Responsiveness No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.53 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.22 Not available Primary
Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Comments The frequency with which the child comments on a book. Responses were coded as (1) orients mother's attention without use of label, (2) labels or describes a picture, or (3) makes a connection involving elements of the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.76 Primary
General verbal support The frequency with which the mother used hints and prompts to help her child make connections. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.57 Primary
Language facilitation The frequency with which the mother used verbal strategies to facilitate her child's cognitive-linguistic development. These strategies included expansion, assists, and lead-ins. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
Open prompts The frequency with which the mother asked open-ended questions or made requests that required the child to think more generally about what was happening in the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.84 Primary
Percent time only reading text The length of time during which the mother just read the text of the book. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.72 Primary
Praise and encourage The frequency with which the mother praised or encouraged her infant's efforts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.83 Primary
Responsiveness The degree to which the mother responded promptly and appropriately to her infant's cues and expressed enthusiasm during the book reading interaction, rated on a five-point scale from almost always to almost never. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.70 Primary
Results for PALS Infant + Toddler (PALS I + PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Comments No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.14 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.87 Not available Primary
General verbal support No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.44 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.89 Not available Primary
Language facilitation No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.10 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.03 Not available Primary
Open prompts Favorable PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.24 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = 0.03 Study-reported = 0.38 Primary
Percent time only reading text No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.12 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.26 Not available Primary
Praise and encourage No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.14 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p > 0.05 Not available Primary
Responsiveness No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.24 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.08 Not available Primary
Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Comments The frequency with which the child comments on a book. Responses were coded as (1) orients mother's attention without use of label, (2) labels or describes a picture, or (3) makes a connection involving elements of the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.76 Primary
General verbal support The frequency with which the mother used hints and prompts to help her child make connections. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.57 Primary
Language facilitation The frequency with which the mother used verbal strategies to facilitate her child's cognitive-linguistic development. These strategies included expansion, assists, and lead-ins. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
Open prompts The frequency with which the mother asked open-ended questions or made requests that required the child to think more generally about what was happening in the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.84 Primary
Percent time only reading text The length of time during which the mother just read the text of the book. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.72 Primary
Praise and encourage The frequency with which the mother praised or encouraged her infant's efforts. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.83 Primary
Responsiveness The degree to which the mother responded promptly and appropriately to her infant's cues and expressed enthusiasm during the book reading interaction, rated on a five-point scale from almost always to almost never. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.70 Primary
Top