A ReMynd Parent Support Program
The child-parent relationship has a major influence on most aspects of child development. When optimal, parenting skills and behaviors have a positive impact on children’s self-esteem, school achievement, cognitive development and behavior.
The Community-Based Parent Support Program (Parent Handbook®) differs from traditional human services parenting programs in both form and function. For the purposes of this review, parent support programs are defined as community-based initiatives designed to promote the flow of resources and supports to parents that strengthen functioning and enhance the growth and development of young children.
The primary goal is to provide support and information in ways that help parents become more capable and competent. Research now indicates that to reach this goal, it is necessary to use practices that are family-centered as opposed to professionally-centered, and capacity-building as opposed to dependency forming. The key characteristics of family-centered practices include: treating families with dignity and respect; providing individual, flexible and responsive support; sharing information so families can make informed decisions; ensuring family choice regarding intervention options; and providing the necessary resources and supports for parents to care for their children in ways that produce optimal parent and child outcomes.
Parent Handbook® aims to support and strengthen existing parenting abilities and promote the development of new competencies so that parents have the knowledge and skills needed to carry out child-rearing responsibilities and provide their children with experiences and opportunities that promote child learning and development. Parent Handbook® typically includes the following features: universal access for families, early support to families, and family involvement at all levels of program operation. Parenting programs often encompass a variety of parenting activities, including, but not limited to, parent and child play groups, parent information classes and support groups, parenting materials, and individualized parent supports provided in response to particular child-rearing concerns or specific parenting questions. Providing or helping parents gain access to other types of supports and resources, such as medical, mental health, psychoeducational assessments, or child care resources, are also an important feature of these programs.
Parent Handbook® programs are based on the belief that when parents receive parenting support as well as other supports and resources, they are more likely to feel better about themselves and their parenting abilities, and in turn interact with their children in responsive and supportive ways enhancing the development of their children. It is well noted that parenting knowledge and skills are learned and strengthened by the kinds of help and assistance provided by informal and formal social support network members. The extent to which help and assistance enhances or compromises parenting competence and confidence depends to a large degree on the ways in which help is offered and provided. Consequently, efforts to provide supports and resources to parents need to be done in ways that enhance rather than diminish parenting capacity. Enhancing parenting competence and confidence is one major goal of Parent Talks’ capacity-building help-giving practices.
Capacity Building Practices
Parent Handbook® program staff use capacity-building, help-giving practices to provide supports to parents. Capacity-building practitioners help family members acquire the skills to obtain resources, supports, and services. Capacity-building practices support and enhance parents’ competence and confidence to promote the development of their young children, including their social and emotional development.
There are two dimensions of capacity-building practices: relational and participatory help-giving. Relational practices include behaviors typically associated with effective help-giving (compassion, active listening, etc.) and positive staff attributions about program participant capabilities. Participatory help-giving practices include behaviors that involve program participant choice and decision-making, and which meaningfully involve participants in actively procuring or obtaining desired resources or supports.
Enhancing and strengthening parenting capacity and the social and emotional development of young children are important outcomes of community-based parenting programs. The relationship between what program staff do and how parents enhance the social and emotional development of their young children is often implicitly rather than explicitly stated by parent support program builders. There is substantial evidence concerning the relationship between capacity building practices, parenting competence and confidence, and the behavior and development of young children, including their social and emotional development.
Most parent support programs offer individualized, multifaceted “interventions” to parents in response to their changing concerns and needs. It is possible to identify the most important characteristics of parent support program practices.
The key questions to be answered are the following:
- Does providing parent support in a family-centered, capacity-building manner, increase parents’ sense of confidence and competence in their parenting ability?
- Do parent support programs enhance parents’ abilities to interact with their young children in ways that lead to the children’s positive social and emotional development?
A number of research reviews have been published that examined the relationship between family-centered, help-giving practices, and parent, family, and child outcomes. The parent, child, and family outcomes in the studies show participant satisfaction with the help giver and his or her program, program helpfulness, social support and resources, parent and family functioning, parenting capabilities, and child behavior and development.
Findings indicate capacity-building practices are related to a host of positive parent, family, parent—child, and child outcomes. Both relational and participatory help-giving practices were found to be related to participant satisfaction with program and practitioner supports, program resources, informal and formal supports, parent and family well-being, family functioning, and child behavior and development. The nature of the relationship between help-giving practices and both parenting capabilities and child social-emotional behavior help show how parent support programs like Parent Handbook® influence these outcomes.
Parenting confidence, competence and enjoyment
Research has examined the ways capacity-building practices were related to different aspects of parenting behavior. The measures of parenting behavior included parenting competence, parenting confidence, and parenting enjoyment. Both the direct and indirect effects of help-giving practices on parenting behavior were examined. Results showed that help-giving practices had both direct and indirect effects on parenting confidence, competence, and enjoyment, where the strength of the relationship was strongest in cases where parents were able to choose to participate. Additionally, participatory (compared to relational) help-giving practices had stronger outcome on parenting behaviors.
Social-emotional behavior and development
Findings also demonstrate a relationship between parent support program practices and the social and emotional development of young children. The measures of child behavior included enhanced positive child social-emotional behavior and reduced negative child social-emotional behavior.
There is now a large and convincing body of evidence indicating that community-based parent support programs like Parent Handbook® operated in a family-centered manner increase parents’ sense of parenting confidence and competence. Participatory help-giving practices that actively involve parents in deciding what knowledge is important to them, and how they want to acquire the information they need, have the greatest positive effect on parents’ sense of competence and confidence. Research evidence also indicates that the social and emotional development of young children is influenced by the ways in which program staff provide parenting support.
Parent Handbook® programs can have important positive effects on both parenting behaviors and the social and emotional development of young children. One of the key features of Parent Handbook® programs is not only what is offered, but how supports are provided. Capacity-building practices that form the basis of the interactions between staff and families ensure the enhancement of parents’ capacities which in turn gives them the competence and confidence necessary to interact with and promote the social and emotional development of their children.
We are pleased to announce that Parent Handbook® will be expanding its program offerings over the course of the 2022-2023 school year. Membership in our Wechat parent group will continue to be free of charge by simply scanning the QR Code below to be accepted and added.
If you are a parent or an educator, and have concerns or questions about a child’s learning, behavior, or social-emotional, or family-related issue; please scan the Wechat QR Code below to schedule an appointment. A confidential 90-minute bilingual consultation is available to parents upon request. All information and enquiries will be kept confidential.