Academic journal article Family Relations

Descriptive Analysis of Intervention for Parents of Young Children Having Sleep Problems

Academic journal article Family Relations

Descriptive Analysis of Intervention for Parents of Young Children Having Sleep Problems

Article excerpt

Special Issue Guest Editor's Note: In this article the author describes implementation of a parent-practitioner partnership intervention as a mechanism to support parents create early care environments supportive of children's developmental needs. This article builds on the article "Family Relations, Stress, and Vulnerability: Biobehavioral Implications for Prevention and Practice" (this issue, pp. 9-23), by Ha and Granger. This article provides an overview of how negative parent-children relationships affect the biological stress system and how these psychobiological changes are related to future mental health.

In the field of health services today, individuals are encouraged to be active and responsible in their health and health care. However, studies of practitioner-patient encounters in health care settings suggest that in everyday practice a traditional practitioner-led interaction, rather than the partnership model, remains (Bissell, May, & Noyce, 2004). There is a general cost to parenting advice that encourages parents to engage in care different from that preferred (Middlemiss, Yaure, & Huey, 2014).

When parents and practitioners work together as a team caring for a developing child, each brings a different knowledge base to an intervention setting. Parents bring a wealth of knowledge of family and the child when seeking advice regarding caregiving options, whereas the practitioner brings an understanding of best practices and clinical knowledge (Wright & Leahey, 2009).

In this article I report the nature of parent- practitioner interactions during an educational intervention program focused on helping parents create healthy sleep environments for their infants. In the process of achieving this goal, practitioners can provide parents with support in understanding their infant's developmental needs and help parents learn their infant's cues to help them develop a foundation for successful parenthood. Their common understanding provides a framework in which parents can create a synchronous pattern of interactions, thus supporting infants' developing neurological patterns and regulatory capacity.

In working toward a parent-practitioner partnership, I propose here that the practitioner has the important role of incorporating parents' expectations and beliefs into the educational intervention setting and providing best practice information and child-rearing resources incorporated within the family system. The practitioner needs to understand the parents' task in this phase of parenthood and support them in finding valuable ways to manage. Establishing trust in a therapeutic relationship is a two-way process, and respect for each other is the foundation. The practitioner's role is to assist the parents in incorporating knowledge of the child's development and temperament and a general well-being for both the child and parents into their approach to parenthood. It is also important for parents to realize the effects their mood has on the child, and vice versa (Wright & Leahey, 2009). Parents need to realize the importance of taking care of their own well-being and learn to use their resources to strengthen them in their role as a parent.


Brazelton and Sparrow (2006) proposed the idea of touchpoints: opportunities for providers/clinics to "touch" the family system, helping parents reflect on their child's behavior and anticipate and positively respond to periods of disorganization. This type of parent-practitioner relationship is likely to provide the foundation for parents to incorporate best practices in a way that supports their sense of efficacy and well-being, thus reducing the stressors of transitioning to parenting and infant care. Jackson and colleagues (Jackson, Cheater, & Reid, 2008) reviewed 149 studies that had looked at what kind of support parents need to make decisions regarding their child's health. Their results showed three key things parents need: (a) information (e. …

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