Innovation summary

Harsh child rearing practices such as corporal punishment, widespread in the Caribbean, are not conducive to optimal neurodevelopment in children. Violence negatively impacts healthy brain development during the first 1,000 days of life and beyond which means that young children, whose brains undergo rapid growth, are most at risk. Implications of the effects on brain development are dire; educational and economic consequences in a globally competitive world are of great concern.

To support healthy social and emotional child development and subsequently reduce the burden of mental disorders, a Conscious Discipline ‘meme’ will be disseminated to show corporal punishment as counterproductive, while working with locally-trusted paraprofessionals to train new and expecting parents on positive parenting practices. 

Impact summary

  • 1,750 caregivers will receive the conscious discipline training and education, including hands-on skills designed to have a direct impact on parent-child attachment 

“The brain is asking three important questions at all times: ‘Am I safe?’ ‘Am I loved?’ ‘What can I learn from this?’ In order to focus attention and problem-solve (learn), the answer to the first two questions must be ‘yes.’”


- Becky Bailey, Founder of Conscious Discipline

​This innovation is funded by Grand Challenges Canada.

Innovation details

The innovation proposes to mitigate long-term impacts of corporal punishment, promote positive parent-child attachment, disseminate the concept of positive discipline, and maximize child potential through a distributed, local, train-the-trainer campaign. By training parents and spreading these ideals, which is referred to as a  “Conscious Discipline Meme”, the program hopes to reach a tipping point in which the meme spreads on its own and nudges the culture away from corporal punishment. This bottom-up approach is being pursued given the failure of a top-down regulatory approach in mitigating corporal punishment.

The project will be implemented in three stages during the life of the grant (1 Oct. 2014 – 31 Aug. 2016):

Identifying and Training Conscious Discipline Paraprofessionals

The project team will work with the existing Roving Caregiver program in the Grenada Ministry of Social Development and Housing to identify 70 paraprofessionals from villages throughout Grenada. These individuals will be respected within their communities as this will help curtail the problem of trust-building between child development experts and villagers. In addition, they will understand the negative impact of corporal punishment and uphold fundamental principles of Conscious Discipline (CD); be willing to learn and have the capacity to teach CD to others; and will show long-term stability and dedication to their community. After identifying these individuals, now referred to as Conscious Discipline Paraprofessionals (CDPPs), the team will hold intensive training workshops for six months. The training will follow a set curriculum outlined by Conscious Discipline Program. As this curriculum is still going through adaptation, a detailed description of the contents will be available following the first year of implementation.

Trainings for Parents using Conscious Discipline Techniques and Mobile Resource Support Unit

The CDPPs will return to their communities to train new and expecting parents, as well parents of young children, in Conscious Discipline techniques. The CDPPs will meet with parents for 45 minutes every two weeks, for up to 14 months (i.e., up to 25.5 hours of training). The CCDPs will track total training time for each parent. The CDPPs will be supported by a Conscious Discipline Mobile Resource Support Unit (MRSU) stocked with educational toys and books, and staffed by a CD Project Manager. The MRSU will cycle through the communities, visiting each community at least once per month to provide a central gathering place for all CDPPs and parents in the community.

Ongoing Outcomes Measurement System for Parent Trainings

The outcomes measurement system will be implemented while CDPPs continue to provide CD training within their communities. Communities without a CDPP will serve as wait-list controls. Attitudes toward corporal punishment and positive attachment with children (i.e., the CD Meme) will be assessed and compared among the intervention group parents and wait-list controls. 

Key drivers

Existing Roving Caregiver (RC) Program

A Roving Caregiver program, employing over 70 full time enrichment paraprofessional therapists, already exists in Grenada. The Rovers travel to remote locations to provide enrichment activities for children, but provide little parent support. The project team will work with the RC program to identify paraprofessionals from the villages, relying on their understanding and experience of working with these communities.

Community Conscious Discipline Meme

Creative nature of creating and disseminating a community CD “meme” promotes natural sustainability as it focuses on changing attitudes towards punishments from the ground up rather than the top down (i.e. laws, professional oversight, and enforcement). This part of the program anticipates change through focusing on public opinion.

Symbol of Nation-Wide Effort

Community CDPP and their respective villages will receive support from a mobile unit team, which is anticipated to become a symbol of a nation-wide effort to save brains further ensuring successful implementation of the innovation.

Sustainability Through CDPP Training

Training and supporting CDPPs will promote sustainability as these individuals will continue to impart their knowledge even after the grant is completed. 


Training of Conscious Discipline Paraprofessionals

Identifying and training 70 CDPPs to a level of expertise that allowed them to teach Conscious Discipline to parents in the community was a challenge because many of the CDPPs, while well-intentioned, had limited education and experience. There was a wide range of ability among the CDPPs: Some needed more support and background training then others. Some

Recruiting and Maintaining Target Number of Parents

Recruiting target number of parent-infant dyads (2,500) is anticipated to be a challenge because we have limited resources and a limited number of CDPPs to contact potential parents in the villages/communities. Not all parents will agree to participate in the project. The short timeframe for the intervention also limits the number of parents with newborn or young children on the island during the project.

Maintaining the target number of intervention parent-infant dyads (1,750) involved in the Conscious Discipline training to the end of the study is anticipated to be a challenge because parents are busy and may not  available when the CDPPs come to their village. Some parents may not see the value of the program and drop out. The skill level and training of the CDPPs, in teaching CD to parents, will likely have an impact on dropout.   

Spreading the Conscious Discipline Meme

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker

The spread and uptake of any idea – especially one that is counter to prevailing belief systems – is a challenge. The initial plan of the innovation was to change the attitudes and actions of parents across an entire island. Because of limited resources for a comprehensive media campaign, the innovation now relies on “word of mouth” and exposure from the Conscious Discipline Resource Unit. 


Following the life cycle of the grant, the team hopes to expand the program to other nations in the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which comprise 20% of the countries on earth. The program is suitable in regions where corporal punishment and extreme authoritarian parenting practices are the norm. 


Implementing Partners


Evaluation methods

To determine the effectiveness of the program, targeted outcomes will be compared through a randomized controlled trial. Four hundred parents who received at least 15 hours of training will be randomly selected to undergo outcomes assessment at the end of the project. A further 400 parents from communities who did not receive CD training (waitlist control group) will also undergo outcomes assessment.   

Measured Outcomes:

CDPPs Knowledge and Uptake – whether or not the CDPPs can adopt and disseminate the model as measured by quantitative, observable fidelity instruments

Parent Knowledge and Uptake – change in knowledge, attitude, behaviors, and child-parent interactions measured through quantitative self-report and observable fidelity instruments

Children Outcomes – whether or not children of parents exposed to the intervention for at least 15 hours show improved cognitive, emotional, and language development compared to children in a wait list control group, as measured by quantitative, observable instruments. The assessment will be conducted by pairs of trained research assistants: One will administer the self report measures while the second conducts the observational assessments. Data will be collected electronically and immediately uploaded to a centralized database via cellular data network.

Cost of implementation

Approximate costs of the program:

  • $100 (CAD) per parent reached 
  • $142.86 CDN per parent who completes at least 15 hours of training

Currently there aren't any plans for a formal cost-analysis, but the team is open and interested in the possibility of conducting one in the near future. 

Impact details

The program will reach 2,500 parents and their infants, with at least 1,750 completing at least 15 hours of training. At least 70 Community Conscious Discipline Paraprofessionals will be trained and certified to provide Conscious Discipline training to parents. 

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