Children's Early Intervention Trust
Parenting Programmes

Parenting Programmes

What are Parenting Programmes?

Parenting programmes aim to promote healthy caregiver-child relationships through collaborative and positive interactions, modeling behaviours, problem solving, limit setting and an understanding of the effects of consistency and behavioural consequences.

Theoretical basis of parenting programmes

Around 5% of children display behaviours that are challenging, including repetitive and persistent patterns of antisocial, aggressive or defiant behaviours. Children with these difficult behaviours are at higher risk of significant impact on functioning and quality of life, through education disruption, impaired social interactions and increased risk of criminality. (NICE Guidelines).

Parenting programmes utilise social constructive and social learning theories to coach parents in learning theory strategies; essentially, using the parent-child relationship to reduce anti-social behaviours and increase pro-social behaviours. Programmes are typically delivered to groups of caregivers, on a weekly basis over 2-3 months, with learning happening through modelling, role play and practice within a supportive environment. This model of parenting coaching has been shown to be effective in reducing anti-social child behaviours and promoting caregiver confidence and relationships.

How do we know they work?

For programmes to promote behaviour change amongst participants, it is important to know that the programme results in the expected changes amongst participants most of the time. Gathering evidence to demonstrate a programme is effective takes time, with the programme needing to undergo multiple research trials measuring change in different circumstances, with different trainers or participants for example. If a programme has not undergone an adequate level of research to measure effective change, then we cannot know if the programme is making more difference than chance.

The importance of fidelity

When programmes are evaluated for effectiveness, there are two parts. One-part measures if there is the expected change in participant behaviour. A second part measures how closely the delivery of the programme was to how it is intended to be delivered. A programme that is not delivered as it is intended, may not be effective in producing the expected changes. Programmes that are most effective, are good at training facilitators through a robust training regime, have a training manual containing the resources to deliver the programme and record how accurately the programme delivery was to the manual. Ongoing support for trainers can include supervision by experienced practitioners to ensure that the programme continues to be delivered effectively.