What is work with parents?

In these pages you will find information and advice as well as signposts to ways in which you can develop in your role as a parenting practitioner.

These pages will help you find information on qualifications, professional development and other helpful tips for working with parents.

Work with parents comes in many guises and can include:

  • work which enables parents to be more effective in their parenting
  • work that specifically supports the parents’ relationship and management of their child
  • work which enhances parents’ confidence
  • work which equips parents to manage behaviour more effectively
  • work that develops close attunement between parents and infants
  • work which improves parent-child interactions
  • ’treatment’ for a range of child conduct and attention problems

‘Services which aim to enable parents to enhance their parenting. These included formal and informal interventions to increase parenting skills, improve parent/child relationships, parenting insight, attitudes and behaviours, confidence in parenting and so on.’  (Barlow et al, 2007).

Working with parents is also variously described as parenting support, family support, parent education and parent training.

It is important to make a distinction between parent support and parenting support. The former could refer to a wide range of activity which supports someone who is a parent; the latter is working specifically with a mother, father or carer to enhance their parenting role.

There are a large number of universal, targeted and specialist support services planned and commissioned, which are provided in different ways by a variety of agencies and partnerships throughout the UK.

Work with parents can take place in both group and one-to-one settings. There are a range of structured parenting programmes and interventions which have been developed for practitioners to use with parents, some of which have been assessed to evaluate how effective they are by the parenting commissioning toolkit. (N.B. This toolkit has not been updated since 2013)

Parenting programmes and interventions cover a range of topics and the right parenting programme or intervention needs to be selected for each parent, but typically they involve working together with parents to support them to:

  • Have an improved relationship with their children.
  • Be more responsive to the needs of their children.
  • Use behavioural management techniques appropriately and effectively.
  • Use a range of tools to help manage their children's behaviour (learning and practicing ways of parenting that are not harsh or inconsistent).
  • Be more self-aware so they can improve family relationships.
  • Improve their own emotional health as well as their children’s.
  • Develop a better understanding of child development and how to use positive discipline techniques and strategies to promote children’s social skills, self-esteem and self-discipline.