Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

The Effectiveness of a Positive Parenting Program - Results of a Preliminary Study in a Romanian Sample

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

The Effectiveness of a Positive Parenting Program - Results of a Preliminary Study in a Romanian Sample

Article excerpt

Introduction

Behavioral problems are the most prevalent group of disorders in children and adolescents, and represent the main reason that determines families to access mental health services. There is a considerable amount of data indicating that: on one hand, children's behavioral problems have a significant impact on the quality of family life, and on the other hand, that marital conflicts which stem from dissimilar perspectives on parenting, also represent a risk factor responsible for increasing the occurrence of emotional and behavioral problems in children (Dadds, Schwartz, & Sanders, 1987; Sanders & Plant, 1989). The lack of a positive relationship with parents, insecure attachment relationships, strict, rigid or inconsistent disciplinary practices, marital conflicts and divorce, as well as parents' psychopathology, have been proved to increase children's risk for developing major behavioral and emotional problems, including substance abuse and antisocial behaviors in adolescence (Sanders, Markie-Dadds, & Turner, 2003).

In 2006, UNICEF carried out the first study on a representative Romanian sample, regarding parenting skills, which included measures concerning parents' knowledge, attitudes, and practices in relation with their children (Anghelescu & Iliescu, 2006). This study aimed at identifying parenting practices employed by adults with children from birth to 7 years of age. The study was conducted on 4 representative samples around the country and included: 494 children with ages between 0-1 years, 549 children between 1-3-years-old, 817 between 3-5 years-old, and 771 between 6-7 years-old. One conclusions of this study was that almost 50% of the Romanian parents included in this research reported having a warm marital relationship, which offers a supportive environment for children's development. Among the families that represent the other half, 27% responded that they get into a fight once a month, while for 15.4% of the interviewed families, fights take place at least on a weekly basis; these conflicts tend to occur more often in the rural areas (i.e., double as much as in the urban environment). Forty-two percent of the parents reported fighting in front of their children. Moreover, 1-year-old children are reported to receive punishments for lack of discipline and in 48% of such cases, parents use physical punishments. The punishments used by the parents were divided in: verbal punishment (i.e., screaming, scolding, threatening with punishment), interdictions (i.e., prohibiting certain activities), and physical punishments (i.e., slapping, pulling by the hair, pulling by the ear, shaking, beating etc.). At the same time, most parents believe that slapping is not a form of aggression towards the child. The study also shows that, in Romania, in 85% of the cases, mothers apply the punishment to the child, while they are also the ones who praise their children. In both urban and rural environment, the most frequent punishments were the verbal ones. Physical punishments have high frequency in both environments, but tend to be most often employed by parents from the rural areas. Conversely, interdictions have a higher occurrence in the urban environment (Anghelescu & Iliescu, 2006). Based on these findings, it is obvious that there is a need to offer parents support to change and to shape their knowledge, attitudes, and parenting skills.

Behavioral family interventions based on Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977) are the most used and investigated forms of intervention designed to reduce the severity of conduct problems (Kazdin, 2003; Weisz, Hawley, & Doss, 2004), and have been proven effective in changing family risk factors associated with child behavior difficulties (Webster-Stratton & Hammond, 1997). Behavioral family interventions aim at improving child behavior in an indirect manner by replacing dysfunctional parenting practices with positive strategies, which foster high quality relations, and teach parents the necessary skills to manage misbehavior in constructive ways (Sanders, 1999). …

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