Improving emotional outcomes for children
Title: Interventions for parents and families: the evidence for improving emotional outcomes for children
Author: Parenting Research Centre
Commissioned by: The Benevolent Society
Published: March 2016
This Evidence Brief reports on the findings of a rigorous review of systematic reviews. It looked at 27 high-quality systematic reviews that investigated the impact of family and parenting interventions on child emotional outcomes. It found strong evidence for interventions to improve child behaviour such as aggression, conduct problems and disruptive behaviour. These types of interventions appear to be worthwhile investments, particularly for younger children, developmentally vulnerable children and those with existing conduct problems.
- There is strong evidence to support the use of parenting and family support interventions to improve child behaviour outcomes relating to externalising behaviours (e.g. aggression, conduct problems, disruptive behaviour), and to a lesser extent hyperactivity/attention deficit issues; however, it is not clear if or for how long these benefits last.
- There is some evidence that interventions to address child behaviour problems also prevent problems arising, but they are more effective as part of a targeted or treatment approach, than for universal prevention for children with no identified issues.
- Benefits seem to be greater for younger rather than older children, and for parent-reported rather than independently observed outcomes.
- Little evidence is available for the effect of parenting and family support interventions on other emotional outcomes such as internalising behaviours (e.g. anxiety, phobias) and pro-social behaviours, although there is mixed evidence relating to general emotional wellbeing and adjustment.