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Group-based parent-training programmes for improving emotional and behavioural adjustment in 0- to 3-year-old children

Additional Info

  • Authors: Jane Barlow, Jacci Parsons
  • Published date: 2005-11-13
  • Coordinating group(s): Social Welfare
  • Type of document: Review
  • See the full review:

Emotional and behavioural problems in children are common. Research suggests that parenting has an important role to play in helping children to become adjusted, and that the first few months and years of a child's life are especially important in establishing patterns of emotional, cognitive and social functioning which will in turn influence the child's future development and in particular, their mental health. Parenting programmes may therefore have a role to play in improving the emotional and behavioural adjustment of infants and toddlers.


The objectives of this review are as follows: a) To establish whether group-based parenting programmes are effective in improving the emotional and behavioural adjustment of children less than three years of age b) To assess the role of parenting programmes in the primary prevention of emotional and behavioural problems.

Main results

Five studies were included in the review, and there were sufficient data from five studies to combine the results in a meta-analysis. Meta-analyses were conducted for both parent-reports and independent assessments of children's behaviour. The result for parent reports shows a non- significant result favouring the intervention group (ES -0.29, CI -0.55 to 0.02). The result for independent observations of children's behaviour shows a significant result favouring the intervention group (ES -0.54, CI -0.84 to -0.23). A meta-analysis of the limited follow-up data available shows a small non-significant result favouring the intervention group (ES -0.24, CI -0.56 to 0.09).

Reviewers' conclusions

The findings of this review provide some support for the use of group-based parenting programmes to improve the emotional and behavioural adjustment of children under the age of 3 years. There is, however, insufficient evidence to reach any firm conclusions regarding the role that such programmes might play in the primary prevention of such problems. Furthermore, there are limited data available concerning the long-term effectiveness of these programmes, and the results from the two studies for which data were available produced borderline insignificant findings. Further research is required.

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