Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 949–964 | Cite as

Promoting Optimal Parenting and Children’s Mental Health: A Preliminary Evaluation of the How-to Parenting Program

  • Mireille JoussemetEmail author
  • Geneviève A. Mageau
  • Richard Koestner
Original Paper


Parenting quality is widely accepted as a primary predictor of children’s mental health. The present study examined the effectiveness of a parenting program in fostering optimal parenting and child mental health. The selected program was How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk (How-to Parenting Program). This program was selected because its content corresponds closely to what the parenting style literature suggests is optimal parenting (i.e., includes structure, affiliation and autonomy support). Eleven groups of six to twelve parents were conducted in 7 local grade schools. The program, offered by two trained leaders, consisted of eight weekly sessions and taught a total of 30 skills. A total of 82 parents completed questionnaires both prior to and after the program. Participants’ children between eight and 12 years old (N = 44) completed questionnaires at school, at both assessment points. Repeated measures ANOVAs using parent reports indicated that structure, affiliation and autonomy support were increased after the program, compared to baseline. The level of child internalizing and externalizing problems also decreased significantly. Importantly, children reports confirmed that parental autonomy support increased from pre to post-test and child-reported well-being improved as well. The preliminary evidence from this pre-test versus post-test repeated measures design suggests that the How-to Parenting Program is effective in improving parenting style and in promoting children’s mental health and that future evaluation research examining the potential of this program is warranted.


Child mental health Parenting Autonomy support How-to Parenting Program Primary prevention 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mireille Joussemet
    • 1
    Email author
  • Geneviève A. Mageau
    • 1
  • Richard Koestner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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