Matt Sanders on improving interactions between parents and children.
Matthew R. Sanders, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
This presentation argues that the field of evidence-based parenting support using social learning and cognitive-behavioral principles has made a major contribution to the mental health and well being of children and young people.
Of all the potentially modifiable risk and protective factors associated with poor developmental outcomes, none are more important than the quality interactions between parents and children.
However, the approach has vast untapped potential to address a much larger range of diverse problems experienced by families in raising their children.
The emergence of a population approach combined with ongoing applications for a much wider range of child and adolescent problems has shown the application of core principles to highly effective, flexibly tailorable, and culturally acceptable in a wide range of cultural and socioeconomic contexts around the world.
Ongoing innovations include the development of parenting interventions for anxiety disorders, pain syndromes, chronic illnesses, sibling and peer relationship problems, academic attainment, and serious mental health problems and neurodevelopmental disorders.
The presentation will illustrate how the field has continued to evolve as a population health perspective has been increasingly adopted with low-intensity, low-cost programs (in-person and online programs) with wide population reach.
The principles of minimal sufficiency and "proportionate universalism" will be illustrated to show how increasing population reach can be achieved in a cost-effective manner. At the same time programs are needed for the most vulnerable children and families.
Future parenting interventions should focus on promoting self-regulation skills in both adults and children. Finally, the role of parenting programs in tackling some of the world's "wicked" problems will be discussed.