Parent-focused interventions (PFIs) are a promising method for supporting parents and promoting children’s well-being. Few PFIs in the USA, however, include physical health promotion content and are universal programs. The purpose of this paper is to describe a universal health-promoting PFI for parents of elementary school-aged children and demonstrate proof of concept.
The program emphasizes positive parenting practices, stress management skills and physical health promotion strategies and recommendations, and is part of a larger initiative that includes a continuum of universal, developmentally appropriate, health-promoting PFIs for civilian and military parents. The program was implemented at two community sites in rural Pennsylvania with 20 civilian parents completing pretests and posttests. Study measures assessed parenting, stress and stress management and physical health promotion related outcomes.
Parents reported decreases in suboptimal discipline and feeding practices, stress and child internalizing behavior. They also reported increases in their sense of control in managing child behavior, coping socialization, child’s outdoor playtime and health recommendations met.
While these preliminary findings may not be generalizable, they serve as proof of concept, which suggests that more rigorous research on the program is warranted.
Implementing a universal, health-promoting PFI within the USA is viable and has the potential to impact multiple short-term outcomes.
Parents are among their child’s earliest and most influential educators, and this study lends further support to their role as health educators. Given the significant public health benefits of holistically promoting child health, the time has come for universal PFIs to begin including physical health promotion content.
The authors acknowledge all collaborators who have contributed to the THRIVE Initiative and the Grow parenting program, especially C. Eddy Mentzer (Associate Director for Family Readiness and Well-Being, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Office of Family Readiness Policy, Military Community and Family Policy) for his contributions to program design. The authors also recognize Kimberly McCarthy and Darcy Gungor for their rigorous work on the development of the Grow parenting program. This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Family Policy, Children, and Youth, US Department of Defense under Award No. 2012-48709-20033 developed in collaboration with The Pennsylvania State University.
Chesnut, R., DiNallo, J.M., Czymoniewicz-Klippel, M.T. and Perkins, D.F. (2018), "The Grow parenting program: demonstrating proof of concept", Health Education, Vol. 118 No. 5, pp. 413-430. https://doi.org/10.1108/HE-01-2018-0005
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