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Behavioural problems in children are one of the most frequent complaints from families and teachers, and are among the main reasons for demanding professional attention by families. Difficulty following rules, aggressive, defiant behaviour, tantrums and anger outbursts are just some of the manifestations of a set of problems that can significantly alter the well-being of the child and his/her environment. Furthermore, although the evolutionary course of these problems may be variable, there is a high risk that these early difficulties become chronic and trigger more severe problems in adolescence, such as school failure, antisocial behaviour or drug abuse problems.

The EmPeCemos programme. Emotions, Thoughts and Behaviours for Healthy Development is a multi-component intervention aimed at families, teachers and children to address early behavioural problems and prevent the development of future social, emotional and behavioural maladjustment.

The development of the programme was based on experiences of intervention with effectiveness widely validated by scientific research. It is aimed at children with behavioural problems between the ages of 5 and 11, their teachers and their families. EmPeCemos focuses on working on emotions, thoughts and behaviours of parents, teachers and children in order to promote a spiral of positive changes that will allow to leave the circle of reactions behind the children’s behavioural problems.

The activities proposed by EmPeCemos are diverse, including explanations, discussion activities, behaviour modelling and, above all, the practice of skills. More information on each of the components can be found in the following links.

Despite the three components of the programme (families, teachers, children) can be applied separately, it is recommended the joint and coordinated, multicomponent application, so that the advances in one field can be supported and consolidated in the other socialization contexts.

The multicomponent programme was evaluated not only in the short term, but also over a seven-year period, and showed efficacy to reduce problem behaviours over time, including also the onset of problematic drug use in adolescence. The programme was recognised as a high quality programme in the European context of prevention of behavioural problems (EMCDDA).


Different studies and research projects were carried out in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the EmPeCemos programme:

Robles, Z. (2009). Intervención sobre problemas de conducta de inicio temprano: evaluación de un programa de entrenamiento para padres. Tesis doctoral. Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.

Romero, E., Rodríguez, C., Villar, P., & Gómez-Fraguela, X. A. (2016). Intervención sobre problemas de conducta tempranos como prevención indicada del consumo de drogas: Siete años de seguimiento. Adicciones, 29(3), 150-162.

Romero, E., Villar, P., Luengo, M. A., & Gómez-Fraguela, J. A. (2009). EmPeCemos: Un programa multicomponente para la prevención indicada de los problemas de conducta y el abuso de drogas. Revista Española de Drogodependencias, 4, 420-447.

Romero, E., Gómez-Fraguela, X.A., Villar, P. & Rodríguez, C. (2019). Prevención indicada de los problemas de conducta: Entrenamiento de habilidades socioemocionales en el contexto escolar. Revista de Psicología Clínica con Niños y Adolescentes, 6 (3), 39-47.