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Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies



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


1755 North Pebblecreek Parkway #1136
Goodyear, AZ 85395
Phone: (877) 717-2847
Email: [email protected]
Web site: https://pathsprogram.com/


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