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What works best in increasing parental self-efficacy, and decreasing stress and harsh practices: parenting programs or parenting books?
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden. (Center for Developmental Research)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2294-2256
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden. (Center for Developmental Research)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7546-2275
2014 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Previous studies have shown that parents with difficult children decrease their perceived self-efficacy over time (Bugental et al., 1980; Glatz et al., 2011), increase their stress level (see Theule et al., 2010), and start using more negative practices (Patterson, 1982).  These processes were linked to further child difficult behaviour (Patterson, 1982). However, increasing parents’ self-efficacy and decreasing the level of parental stress may reduce their use of harsh practices (Dekovic et al., 2010).  Previous studies have suggested that offering a minimum support (e.g., workbooks, guides, manuals) helps parents increase their self-efficacy, reduce the use of harsh practices, and the level of problems experienced with their children (Sanders et al., 2000; Markie-Dadds & Sanders, 2006).  The small/clinical samples used in previous studies, and the manualized shape of the written self-help material leave unanswered the question on the effectiveness of a parenting book in enhancing parental practices and reducing child problems.  Starting from the limitations of previous research, we investigated whether an intervention based on a parenting book had similar effects in improving parental skills and reducing child problems as already validated face-to-face programs with similar theoretical background. 

Using an effectiveness approach, we compared a self-help book for parents based on a behavioural approach with two validated manual-based face-to-face programs with similar theoretical underpinning: Comet (Kling et al., 2010) and Incredible Years (Webster-Stratton & Hammond, 1990).  The sample consisted of 416 parents (Mage=37.78, SD=6.03) with children aged 3-12 years (Mage=7.41, SD=2.48, 61% boys), living in the south or middle of Sweden. We used parental reports on their child’s externalizing behaviour (e.g., ECBI, Eyberg & Pincus, 1999), and on their parental self-efficacy, (PSOC, Johnstone & Mash, 1989;), parental stress (CGSQ, Brennan et al., 1997), and negative parenting practices (e.g., PPI, Webster-Stratton et al., 2001).  We looked at the effects of the self-help intervention on parental skills and child problem behaviours both on short-time (12 weeks), and long-time (1-year after the post-test).  In all analyses we controlled for age.

The results showed improvements in both parental practices and child behaviour from pre-test to post-test for both interventions (self-help and face-to-face), and maintenance of these improvements from post-test to 1-year follow-up.  Both parent programs and book managed to increase parents’ self-efficacy, and to decrease their use of inept discipline, perceived child problems and parental stress.  The biggest changes were in parents’ increased self-efficacy, and in their decreased stress level, followed by the reductions in their use of harsh treatments.  However, the two parent programs managed to increase parental self-efficacy, and to decrease child problems and parents’ use of harsh discipline to a higher extent compared to the book, both on short-term, and on long-term.  Given that the changes in self-efficacy mediated between the initial level of parental stress and the changes in parental use of harsh practices, these results are not surprising.  Being less intense, a self-help book might not have the same effect on enhancing parents’ self-efficacy as face-to face programs.  Fewer changes in parent’s self-efficacy further translate into fewer changes in harsh practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
parenting programs, parental sense of competence, parental self-efficacy, harsh parenting, parenting stress
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-44231OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-44231DiVA: diva2:803818
Conference
Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA), 15th Biennial Meeting, Austin, Texas, USA, March 20-22, 2014
Projects
NJF
Note

The role of parents’ self-efficacy on their cognitive-emotional processes, parenting strategies, and their adolescents’ adjustment.

Available from: 2015-04-13 Created: 2015-04-13 Last updated: 2015-04-15Bibliographically approved

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Trifan, Tatiana AlinaStattin, Håkan
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