Preliminary Evaluation of an Innovative, Brief Parenting Program Designed to Promote Self-Regulation in Parents and Children

Abstract

Children growing up in low-income households tend to be less academically, socially, and emotionally ready at school entry. Self-regulation has been identified as a key factor underlying children’s academic achievement and social–emotional competence and may be promoted through effective parenting. However, few existing parenting programs that teach behavioral parenting skills simultaneously address parents’ self-regulation skills or promote strategies for coping with income-related stress and adversity. Systematic evaluation of the added benefit of incorporating these practices into parenting programs is needed. We conducted preliminary evaluation of a brief parenting program that aims to promote young children’s self-regulation, social–emotional competence, and academic readiness by enhancing parent mindfulness, self-regulation, and evidence-based parenting practices. Evaluations were conducted in two early learning programs serving low-income families. Staff at the sites received limited training and supervision to deliver the program, to test the feasibility of implementing a program with lower resource demands. Observed and self-reported changes in parenting (increased scaffolding and consistency, decreased rejection and negativity), self-reported changes in parent self-regulation, and observed and mother-reported changes in child adjustment (decreased negative affect, increased social competence and academic readiness) were demonstrated. This pilot yielded promising initial evidence for a two-generation approach to increase both parent and child self-regulation in at-risk families.

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Contributions

L.J.L. developed the parenting program, designed and executed the study, conducted the data analyses, and wrote the manuscript. E.J.R. collaborated with the design and execution of the study and with writing the manuscript. C.M. collaborated with the execution of the study and writing of the manuscript. M.K. and B.J. coordinated data coding, assisted with data management, and contributed to writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Liliana J. Lengua.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards, and were approved by the University of Washington Human Subjects IRB.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Lengua, L.J., Ruberry, E.J., McEntire, C. et al. Preliminary Evaluation of an Innovative, Brief Parenting Program Designed to Promote Self-Regulation in Parents and Children. Mindfulness 12, 438–449 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1016-y

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Keywords

  • Parenting
  • Self-regulation
  • Social–emotional competence
  • Academic readiness
  • Preschool
  • Low income