This week we share with you an exciting paper just published in Pediatrics, by Judith Carta and coworkers, entitled Randomized Trial of a Cellular Phone-Enhanced Home Visitation Parenting Intervention, Pediatrics 2013;132:S167–S173. We know well that the families most in need of parenting supports are the ones hardest to engage in services. Carta and her colleagues hypothesized that frequent contact with cell phones would improve outcomes. We have been anxiously anticipating the publication of this study because it is the first randomized controlled trial to assess parenting using the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale as an outcome measure.
KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research
You often hear parents bemoaning the fact that children don't come with instructions. Many people become parents without the skills needed to be effective parents in their children's lives. It is important to support these parents in developing the skills and strategies they need to nurture their children. As we have discussed in prior posts, research consistently shows that parenting quality is the strongest factor contributing to children’s success (for examples see theses prior posts 1, 2, 3, & 4). In a recent post, we explored the role of parenting quality in language learning. A longitudinal study showed that while many things impact a child’s learning of language, such as word counts, environment, income, education, and social status, none of these affected a child more than parenting quality. Parenting quality can include feedback tone, responsiveness, symbolic emphasis, and guidance style. Improving parenting increases the likelihood that children will succeed educationally, socially, and economically.
While at the Smart Start Conference in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago, I attended a half-day session on Motivational Interviewing by Rachel Galanter of the Exchange Club’s Family Center in Durham North Carolina. The session got me thinking about the most frequently asked question we receive from users of the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS). That is, “Now that I have completed a parenting assessment, what do I do with the information?” To address this question we developed a Feedback Workshop. Also, we have written a series of blog posts on the process of using the parenting assessment information with families (see Blogs 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 8, 9, and 10). Let’s explore how Motivational Interviewing could prove useful in addressing the question of what to do with parenting assessment information?
Guest Submission by:
Erin Cowan, MSW, Program Director
MyChild’sReady, Child Crisis Center,
MyChild’sReady (MCR) is an in-home support service for expecting mothers and families with children up to 5 years old in Mesa, Arizona. It is a program within the Child Crisis Center and funded by First Things First Arizona. A Parents as Teachers affiliate, MCR’s goals are for children to start school ready to succeed and eager to learn. MCR provides home visits, parent group meetings, child screening and referral to community resources. MCR currently serves about 200 families, of whom 45% are Hispanic, in Southeastern Maricopa County.
Guest Contribution by:
Nancy Seibel, Keys to Change
Visit Nancy at www.keystochangelifecoaching.com
You know a powerful question when you hear one. It captures your attention. It makes you stop and think. Something new becomes clear to you as you consider the question. Powerful questions can be quite simple. Powerful questions avoid communicating judgment. Instead they focus on what can be learned (Williams & Menendez, 2007). Often, helping others is less about knowing the right thing and more about asking the right question (Hyatt, 2012).
Previously in the series on parenting assessment feedback, we explored the strategies and skills involved in giving effective feedback to parents. In the most recent post, we looked at the importance of modeling receiving feedback before promoting changes in parenting using assessment information. Since few people have consciously developed skill in receiving feedback, modeling it before expecting parents to receive feedback is particularly powerful.
If you have followed all 9 prior posts in the series on parenting feedback you have considerable information on how to make it go well. However, how confident are you that every time you give a parent feedback it will go well? We ask this question midway through the Feedback Workshop, and very few participants feel confident. We then challenge, “You are going to elicit strengths, protect self-esteem, focus on future improvements, have a helping spirit, and provide specific prescriptions for improvement. What can possibly go wrong?” Despite all the effort, almost no one feels confident. Even when we follow all the steps, we realize at some point that we can only control what we do, not the other person’s response.
In this post in the feedback series we focus on the importance of being specific and prescriptive in supporting parents’ improvement. In preceding posts we have stressed the importance of starting by identifying the positives, working to protect self-esteem, focusing on improvement and the future, being interactive and flexible, and having a helping spirit. These elements work together to make it more likely that the parent can hear, reflect and improve their parenting practices.
For most parenting service providers having a helping spirit is much easier than the previous step that we discussed of being interactive and flexible. In this blog series aimed at addressing what we do after a parenting assessment, we have explored the importance of identifying parents’ strengths, using a thoughtful strategy, and being future and improvement focused. In the last post we explored the most challenging step for me, being interactive and flexible. This time we explore the concept of bringing a helping spirit to your feedback with parent. Hendrie Weisenger says that those showing a helping spirit give three important messages:
In the earlier posts in this series we discussed identifying parents strengths, using a thoughtful strategy, and being future and improvement focused. This article will focus on being interactive and flexible. This is the hardest step for me. It also runs counter to most of our experience with feedback. In school I received papers returned with the teachers’ marks on them; hardly, interactive or flexible. This feedback pattern continued into adulthood. I once worked for a university that had a performance review process, where the supervisor filled out a long form, then read it out loud to the supervisee, and the supervisee had to sign it. I guess it fulfilled management’s need, but as a supervisor and supervisee, I hated it. It was neither interactive, nor flexible; moreover, it didn’t promote positive change. This personal experience makes the step of being interactive and flexible particularly important to me.