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Cute boy in glasses dressed a the devil in front of a chalkboard to symbolize behavioral challenges in TCIT classrooms

What is Teacher Child Interaction Training (TCIT)?

The Teacher Child Interaction Training – Comprehensive Program (TCIT-C) is an adaptation of Parent Child Interaction Therapy for use with teachers and classrooms.  


TCIT-C was designed to improve the social, emotional, and behavioral competence for students 3 to 7 years of age.  Additionally, TCIT-C has been shown to increase teacher-efficacy and job satisfaction for early childhood educators.

Similar to PCIT, TCIT-C is used to reduce challenging classroom behaviors, including:

  • Physical & Verbal Aggression

  • Destruction of Property

  • Noncompliance / Defiance

  • Hyperactivity / Inattention

  • Emotional Dysregulation

  • Negative Teacher-Student Relationships

TCIT is Delivered in Two Phases

Phase #1 - Child-Directed Interaction Phase

During the first phase of training (Child-Directed Interaction), students are encouraged to lead the play while their teachers observe and comment on their students' positive behaviors (and ignore inappropriate behaviors).  The primary goal of the first phase of TCIT (the Child-Directed Interaction) is to strengthen positive teacher-student relationships.  

Phase #1 Benefits for Students include:

  • Increased feelings of security, safety, and attachment

  • Increased attention span

  • Increased self-esteem

  • Increased pro-social behaviors (sharing, taking turns)

  • Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of tantrums

  • Decreased hyperactivity

  • Decreased negative attention-seeking behaviors (for example, whining, bossiness)

Phase #1 Benefits for Teachers include:

  • Decreased frustration

  • Increased job satisfaction and teacher-efficacy

  • Increased academic time as challenging behaviors decrease

TCIT teacher smiling and playing with her students
Smiling TCIT teacher and her students playing with bright beads

Phase #2 - Teacher-Directed Interaction Phase

In the second phase of the training (Teacher-Directed Interaction), teachers learn how to deliver clear, direct commands to reward student compliance, and utilize effective strategies for student noncompliance.  The primary goal of the second phase of TCIT is to change ineffective teacher-student interaction patterns. 

Phase #2 Benefits for Students include:

  • Increased compliance with adults (teachers, caregivers)

  • Improved behavior at school, and at home

  • Decreased frequency, severity, and/or duration of aggressive behavior

  • Decreased frequency of destructive behavior

  • Decreased defiance

Phase #2 Benefits for Teachers include:

  • Increased teacher confidence (and decreased stress)

  • Increased job satisfaction and teacher-efficacy

  • Increased academic time as challenging behaviors decrease

Live Coaching of Skills

A hallmark of Parent Child Interaction Therapy is the use of constructive, positive, live coaching of caregivers.  Like PCIT, TCIT-C uses a “bug-in-the-ear” system for communicating to the teachers as they play with their students. 

Different from PCIT, TCIT-C coaching occurs with teachers in both: (1) Training Rooms – where the skills are initially learned and mastered with small groups of children; and (2) Classrooms – where the skills are generalized to the broader classroom setting.

Live coaching of teacher skills has five advantages over the more traditional methods of training (e.g., workshops, modeling):

  1. Immediate, positive feedback by the coach can prompt, shape, and reinforce the teacher’s appropriate skill usage.

  2. Live coaching allows the coach to adapt the skills being taught to manage specific classroom behavior problems as they arise.

  3. Direct coaching provides a unique opportunity for coaches to quickly correct errors so caregivers do not repeatedly practice incorrect techniques.

  4. Direct observation and coaching decreases the need to rely on teacher self-reports of skill utilization in the classroom.

  5. As teachers become more adept at using the newly trained skills, the coach can fade out prompts.

TCIT Coach using a headset to provide live coaching of a teacher
Male TCIT teacher smling and coloring with his students

Format and Duration of TCIT-C

Like PCIT, TCIT-C is comprised of didactic, teaching sessions where the skills are introduced and role-played with teachers, as well as subsequent coaching sessions with students to facilitate the mastery of skills.  


In fact, TCIT -C was carefully created to meet the specialized needs of the classroom environment, but still retain the core principles and goals of PCIT.

TCIT-C sessions typically occur twice per week.  The average number of sessions to complete TCIT is 20 sessions.  However, the TCIT-C Program is a mastery-based program that continues until the teachers have demonstrated specific skills, and classroom behaviors have improved.

TCIT-C: Research Support

Research Funding

The Teacher Child Interaction Training – Comprehensive Program is the only TCIT program that has been evaluated by 2 federally-funded research grants:

  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children & Families

  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Prevention & Intervention Model

The Teacher Child Interaction Training – Comprehensive Program (TCIT-C) is both a Prevention and Intervention Model.  That is, TCIT-C has continually demonstrated significant decreases in disruptive behavior for students who frequently exhibit behavioral problems.  


Equally important, research results indicate that TCIT-C reduces the risk of future challenging behaviors for students who are not exhibiting behavioral difficulties. 

TCIT teacher reading to her students during circle time
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