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Understanding parenting programmes: parents' views

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2006

Jane Barlow
Health Services Research Unit, Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Sarah Stewart-Brown
Health Services Research Unit, Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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This paper describes a pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of a school-based parenting programme combining the use of both affective (related to feelings) and behavioural strategies. In this paper we describe the intervention, its evaluation and a summary of the quantitative information gathered. The three pre-eminent ways in which parents appeared to have benefited from this particular programme included (1) the support they received in their parenting role from other parents, including a mirroring of problems, (2) the regaining of a sense of control in the parental role, in part through an increase in their capacity to think about matters calmly, and also through the provision of new tools with which to do the job of parenting, and (3) an increased ability to empathize and identify with their children, and a better understanding of the factors which motivate children to behave in particular ways. The capacity to think about matters calmly and the ability to empathize and identify with children appeared to be important factors in the reduction of inappropriate and unhelpful parenting practices such as shouting and smacking. It is suggested that empathy in particular is central to effective parenting, and that these results support the suggestion that there is an important added benefit for parents from programmes which combine behavioural and affective strategies focusing on feelings, relationships within the family, and the parents' own experience of being parented. The limitations of the data are discussed with reference to its reliability and validity, and the need for further research using grounded theory with other groups of parents.

Original Article
2001 Arnold