Skip to main content

Parenting self-efficacy, parenting stress and child behaviour before and after a parenting programme

  • Linda Bloomfield (a1) and Sally Kendall (a2)

To explore whether changes in parenting self-efficacy after attending a parenting programme are related to changes in parenting stress and child behaviour.


Adverse parenting is a risk factor in the development of a range of health and behavioural problems in childhood and is predictive of poor adult outcomes. Strategies for supporting parents are recognised as an effective way to improve the health, well-being and development of children. Parenting is influenced by many factors including the behaviour and characteristics of the child, the health and psychological well-being of the parent and the contextual influences of stress and support. Parenting difficulties are a major source of stress for parents, and parenting self-efficacy has been shown to be an important buffer against parenting stress.


In all, 63 parents who had a child under the age of 10 years took part in the research. Of those, 58 returned completed measures of parenting self-efficacy, parenting stress and child behaviour at the start of a parenting programme and 37 at three-month follow-up.


Improvements in parenting self-efficacy and parenting stress were found at follow-up, but there was less evidence for improvements in child behaviour. The findings clearly suggest a relationship between parenting self-efficacy and parenting stress; parents who are feeling less efficacious experience higher levels of stress, whereas greater parenting self-efficacy is related to less stress. This study adds to the evidence that parent outcomes may be a more reliable measure of programme effectiveness than child outcomes at least in the short term.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Parenting self-efficacy, parenting stress and child behaviour before and after a parenting programme
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Parenting self-efficacy, parenting stress and child behaviour before and after a parenting programme
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Parenting self-efficacy, parenting stress and child behaviour before and after a parenting programme
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Linda Bloomfield, Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK. Email:
Hide All
Abidin, R.Burke, W. 1978: The development of the parenting stress index. Annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Toronto: American Psychological Association.
Abidin, R.R. 1986: Parenting stress index. Charlottesville, VA. Pediatric Psychology Press.
Abidin, R.R. 1997: Parenting stress index: a measure of the parent child system. In Zalaquett, C. and Woods, R., editors, Evaluating stress: a book of resources (pp. 277291). Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press Inc.
Allen, G. 2011: Early intervention: the next steps. London: HMG.
Anderson, L., Vostanis, P.O'reilly, M. 2005: Three-year follow-up of a family support service cohort of children with behavioural problems and their parents. Child, care, health and development 31, 469477.
Bandura, A. 1982: Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist 37, 122147.
Bandura, A. 1986: Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Engle Wood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A. 1989: Regulation of cognitive processes through perceived self-efficacy. Developmental Psychology 25, 729735.
Bandura, A. 1997: Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. New York: Freeman.
Barlow, J.Stewart-Brown, S. 2000: Behaviour problems and group-based parent education programmes. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 21, 356370.
Belsky, J. 1984: The determinants of parenting: a process model. Child Development 55, 8396.
Bloomfield, L.Kendall, S. 2007: Testing a parenting programme evaluation tool as a pre- and post-course measure of parenting self-efficacy. Journal of Advanced Nursing 60, 487493.
Bloomfield, L.Kendall, S. 2010: Audit as evidence: the effectiveness of ‘123 Magic’ programmes. Community Practitioner 83, 2630.
Bloomfield, L., Kendall, S., Applin, L., Attarzadeh, V., Dearnley, K., Edwards, L., Hinshelwood, L., Lloyd, P.Newcombe, T. 2005: A qualitative study exploring the experiences and views of parents, health visitors and family support centre workers on the challenges and difficulties of parenting. Health and Social Care in the Community 13, 4655.
Bradley, S.J., Jadaa, D., Brody, J., Landy, S., Tallett, S., Watson, W., Shea, N.Stephens, D. 2003: Brief psychoeducational parenting program: an evaluation and 1-year follow-up. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 42, 11711178.
Bywater, T., Hutchings, J., Linck, P., Whitaker, C., Daley, D., Yeo, S.T.Edwards, R.T. 2011: Incredible years parent training support for foster carers in Wales: a multi-centre feasibility study. Child, Care, Health and Development 37(2), 233243.
CEBC California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, 2006.
Coleman, P.Karraker, K. 1998: Self-efficacy and parenting quality: findings and future applications. Developmental Review 18, 4785.
Coleman, P.Karraker, K. 2000: Parenting self-efficacy among mothers of school-age children: conceptualization, measurement and correlates. Family Relations 49, 1324.
Coleman, P.K.Karraker, K.H. 2003: Maternal self-efficacy beliefs, competence in parenting, and toddlers behaviour and development status. Infant Mental Health Journal 24, 126148.
Deater-Deckard, K. 1998: Parenting stress and child adjustment: some old hypotheses and new questions. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 5, 314332.
Deater-Deckard, K.Scarr, S. 1996: Parenting stress among dual-earner mothers and fathers: are there gender differences? Journal of Family Psychology 10, 4559.
Department of Health. 2009: The healthy child programme. London: Department of Health.
Department of Health. 2011: The health visiting implementation plan. London: Department of Health.
Edwards, R.T., Ceilleachair, A., Bywater, T., Hughes, D.Hutchings, J. 2007: Parenting programmes for parents of children at risk of developing conduct disorder: cost effectiveness analysis. British Medical Journal 334, 682685.
Gardner, F., Burton, J.Klimes, I. 2006: Randomised controlled trial of a parenting intervention in the voluntary sector for reducing child conduct problems: outcomes and mechanisms of change. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47, 11231132.
Goodman, R. 1997: The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: a research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 38, 581586.
Goodman, S.H.Gotlib, I.H. 2002: Children of depressed parents: alternative pathways to risk for psychopathology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.
Gross, D.Tucker, S. 1994: Parenting confidence during toddlerhood: a comparison of mothers and fathers. Nurse Practitioner 19, 1929.
Her Majesty's Government 2006: Reaching out: an action plan on social exclusion. London: Cabinet Office.
Janicke, D.M.Finney, J.W. 2003: Children's primary health care services: social-cognitive factors related to utilization. Journal of Paediatric Psychology 28, 547557.
Jones, T.Prinz, R. 2005: Potential roles of parental self-efficacy in parent and child adjustment: a review. Clinical Psychology Review 25, 341363.
Kendall, S. 1991: A home visit by a health visitor using Bandura's theory of self-efficacy. In While, A., editor, Caring for children: towards partnership with families. London: Arnold.
Kendall, S.Bloomfield, L. 2005: Developing and validating a tool to measure parenting self-efficacy. Journal of Advanced Nursing 51, 174181.
Macdonald, G. 2001: Effective interventions for child abuse and neglect. An evidence-based approach to planning and evaluating interventions. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
Mash, E.Johnston, C. 1990: Determinants of parenting stress: illustrations from families of hyperactive children and families of physically abused children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 19, 313328.
Ostberg, M.Hagekull, B. 2000: A structural modeling approach to the understanding of parenting stress. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 29, 615625.
Patterson, J., Barlow, J., Mockford, C., Klimes, I., Pyper, C.Stewart-Brown, S. 2002: Improving mental health through parenting programmes: block randomised controlled trial. Archives of Disease in Childhood 87, 472477.
Petrie, J., Bunn, F.Byrne, G. 2007: Parenting programmes for preventing tobacco, alcohol or drugs misuse in children <18: a systematic review. Health Education Research 37(2), 233243.
Phelan, T. 2004: 1-2-3 magic: effective discipline for children. Child Management Inc., Illinois.
Putnam, S.P., Sanson, A.V.Rothbar, M.K. 2002: Child temperament and parenting. In Bornstein, M.H., editor, Handbook of parenting, second edition. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Raikes, H.Thompson, R. 2005: Efficacy and social support as predictors of parenting stress among families in poverty. Mental Health Journal 26, 177190.
Scott, M.J.Stradling, S. 1987: Evaluation of a group program for parents of problem children. Behavioural Psychotherapy 15, 224239.
Scott, S. 1998: Intensive interventions to improve parenting. Archives of Disease in Childhood 79, 9093.
Scott, S., Knapp, M., Henderson, J.Maughn, B. 2001a: Financial cost of social exclusion: follow up study of antisocial children into childhood. British Medical Journal 323, 15.
Scott, S., Spender, Q., Doolan, M., Jacobs, B.Aspland, H. 2001b: Multicentre controlled trial of parenting groups for childhood antisocial behaviour in clinical practice. British Medical Journal 323, 194197.
Sevigny, P.R.Loutzenhiser, L. 2009: Predictors of parenting self-efficacy in mothers and fathers of toddlers. Child: care, health and development 36, 179198.
Stewart-Brown, S. 2008: Improving parenting: the why and the how. Archives Of Disease In Childhood 93, 102104.
Stewart-Brown, S., Paterson, J., Mockford, C., Barlow, J., Klimes, I.Pyper, C. 2004: Impact of a general practice based group parenting programme: quantitative and qualitative results from a controlled trial at 12 months. Archives of Disease in Childhood 89, 519525.
Teti, D.Gelfand, D. 1991: Behavioural competence among mothers of infants in the first year: The mediational role of maternal self-efficacy. Child Development 62, 918929.
Vondra, J.Belsky, J. 1993: Developmental origins of parenting: personality and relationship factors. In Luster, T. and Okagaki, L., editors, Parenting: an ecological perspective. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
World Health Organization. 2002: A review: a critical link, intervention for physical growth and development. Child and adolescent health and development. Geneva: World Health Organisation.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
  • URL: /core/journals/primary-health-care-research-and-development
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed