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Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies


Prevention; Ages 5–12


(Read the criteria for this rating)

Effective delinquency program


Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies (PATHS) is a comprehensive program for promoting emotional and social competencies and reducing aggression and acting-out behaviors in elementary school-aged children, while simultaneously enhancing the educational process in the classroom. This innovative curriculum for kindergarten through sixth grade (ages 5 to 12) is used by educators and counselors as a multiyear prevention model. PATHS has been field-tested and researched with children in regular education classroom settings, as well as with a variety of special needs students (deaf, hearing-impaired, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, mildly mentally delayed, and gifted). Ideally, it should be initiated at the entrance to schooling and continue through Grade 5.

The PATHS curriculum provides teachers with systematic and developmentally based lessons, materials, and instructions for teaching their students:

  • Emotional literacy
  • Self-control
  • Social competence
  • Positive peer relations
  • Interpersonal problem-solving skills

The PATHS curriculum has been shown to improve protective factors and reduce behavioral risk factors. Evaluations have demonstrated significant improvements for program youth (regular education, special needs, and deaf) compared to control youth in the following areas:

  • Improved self-control
  • Improved understanding and recognition of emotions
  • Increased ability to tolerate frustration
  • Use of more effective conflict-resolution strategies
  • Improved thinking and planning skills
  • Decreased anxiety/depressive symptoms (teacher report of special needs students)
  • Decreased conduct problems (teacher report of special needs students)
  • Decreased symptoms of sadness and depression (child report—special needs)
  • Decreased report of conduct problems, including aggression (child report)

Risk Factors

Antisocial/delinquent beliefs
Belief in physical aggression to resolve disagreements and violent tendencies
Conduct disorders (authority conflict/rebellious/stubborn/disruptive/antisocial)
Early and persistent noncompliant behavior
Early onset of aggression/violence
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
Low intelligence quotient
Low perceived likelihood of being caught
Poor refusal skills
Abusive parents
Antisocial parents
Broken home/changes in caretaker
Family violence (child maltreatment, partner violence, conflict)
High parental stress/maternal depression
Parent proviolent attitudes
Parental use of physical punishment/harsh and/or erratic discipline practices
Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)
Poor parent-child relations or communication
Unhappy parents
Frequent school transitions
Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school
Identified as learning disabled
Low academic aspirations
Low achievement in school
Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
Non-normative school transitions (i.e., changes due to residential moves or mid-year transfers)
Old for grade/repeated a grade
Poor student-teacher relations
Poorly defined rules and expectations for appropriate conduct
Student failure in the first grade
Trouble at school
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Peer rejection


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Model program

University of Colorado Blueprints: Model program

Crime Solutions: Effective


Channing-Bete Company
One Community Place
South Deerfield, MA 01373-0200
Phone: (800) 477-4776
Fax: (800) 499-6464
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.channing-bete.com/prevention-programs/paths/paths.html


Greenberg, M. T.; Kusché, C.; and Mihalic, S. F. (1998). Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Book Ten: Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS). Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.

Date Created: April 7, 2021