Parenting Programmes: The Best Available Evidence

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    Parenting programmes have been provided to a wide range of child and parent groups across a number of countries, but are they effective? This aim of this paper is to examine the findings from a number of systematic reviews that summarise the best available research evidence on the impact of these programmes on a range of parental and child outcomes. In addition to examining the findings from systematic reviews, the paper also takes a selective look at the uptake of parenting programmes in the United Kingdom, the evidence for effectiveness and the efficacy of adopting a population-based approach to parent education.

    The findings from systematic reviews indicate that parenting programmes can have a positive impact on a range of outcomes, including improved child behaviour, increased maternal self-esteem and relationship adjustment, improved mother–child interaction and knowledge and decreased maternal depression and stress. While there is a need for greater evaluation of the long-term impact of these programmes, preliminary evidence indicates that these positive results are maintained over time, with group-based, behaviourally orientated programmes tending to be more effective.

    While several recent trials indicate that that these programmes can be effective within the United Kingdom, high drop-out rates may mean that they only reach a minority of parents. However, multi-level parent education strategies such as the Australian Triple P Positive Parenting Strategy that incorporate an array of mediums aimed at different levels of need may provide an opportunity to reach a wider range of parents. This approach is currently being evaluated in order to ascertain whether it is effective in improving child outcomes in the general population.

    While there is no coherent strategy for parent training across the United Kingdom, within the Northern Ireland context there is a move towards the development of a family support strategy. While uptake of parent education and training is currently unknown the best available evidence highlights the positive impact that parent training can have, suggesting the importance of including parent education as one aspect of this strategy
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalChild Care in Practice
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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