How abusive mums can improve their parenting skills

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Washington, July 28 (ANI): A new study has revealed that mothers who live in poverty and have abused their children can stop doing so if they are taught parenting skills and given emotional support.

The study found that mothers in families in which there is a history of child abuse and neglect were able to reduce after a series of home visits from therapists who taught them parenting skills.

There were large improvements in mothers' parenting in families that received the intensive services, compared to families that did not receive the services, according to Southern Methodist University SMU psychologists Ernest Jouriles and Renee McDonald.

As a result of the intensive, hands-on training, the women in the study said they felt they did a better job managing their children's behavior, said Jouriles and McDonald.

The mothers also were observed to use better parenting strategies, and the families were less likely to be reported again for child abuse.

"Although there are many types of services for addressing child maltreatment, there is very little scientific data about whether the services actually work.

"This study adds to our scientific knowledge and shows that this type of service can actually work," said McDonald.he study worked with 35 families screened through the Texas child welfare agency Child Protective Services, CPS.

In all the families, the mother was legal guardian and primary caregiver and typically had three children. On average she was 28, single and had an annual income of 10,300 dollar. Children in the study ranged from 3 to 8 years old.

Half the families in the study received parenting education and support. The other half received CPS's conventional services.

Mental health service providers met with the 17 Project Support families weekly in their homes for up to 6 months.

During that time, mothers, and often their husbands or partners, were taught 12 specific skills, including how to pay attention and play with their children, how to listen and comfort them, how to offer praise and positive attention, how to give appropriate instructions and commands, and how to respond to misbehavior.

Also, therapists provided the mothers with emotional support and helped them access materials and resources through community agencies as needed, such as food banks and Medicaid.

Only 5.9 percent of the families trained through Project Support were later referred to CPS for abuse, compared with almost 28 percent of the control group, the researchers found.

"The results of this study have important implications for the field of child maltreatment," said SMU's Rosenfield.

The study appears in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Family Psychology. (ANI)

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