A Quasi-Experimental Study of the Respectful Approach on Early Parenting Competence and Stress

Abstract

Early parenthood can be stressful. Many parenting interventions emphasize skills training, as opposed to improving the parent-child relationship. We investigated whether the Respectful Approach intervention, based on building the parent-child relationship through observation and respect, improves stress and confidence in parents of infants and toddlers. Using a quasi-experimental design, we compared changes in self-reported levels of stress and parenting competence between 15 parents who attended the Respectful Approach parent-child classes (once a week for six weeks), to a control group of 23 parents utilizing the ‘Parenting Sense of Competence Scale’, ‘Parental Stress Scale’ and ‘Depression Anxiety Stress Scales’. A focus group was held at the conclusion of the intervention to provide feedback about the classes. A significant Time × Group interaction was observed for both parent competence (p = 0.004) and parent stress (p = 0.010). Parents in the intervention group demonstrated a significant increase in parent competence (p = 0.001) with no significant change observed in the control group (p = 0.787). Parent stress significantly increased in the control group (p = 0.017) and marginally decreased in the intervention group (p = 0.134). Qualitative analysis revealed that the intervention parents felt they were calmer and better understood their children. These findings suggest that the Respectful Approach intervention may improve parental stress and parenting competence. Our results justify development of a randomized controlled trial to further quantify the effect of this approach.

Highlights

  • We examined an early relationship-based parenting intervention (Respectful Approach) for parents of children under the age of two.

  • Respectful Approach aims to improve parent stress and competence by helping parents view the child as a separate, competent being with their own thoughts and intentions, and to trust in the child’s abilities.

  • Parents of infants revealed they felt less stressed, while parents of toddlers felt more confident after participation in the intervention.

  • Further research into the use of the Respectful Approach as a potential population-based support system is warranted.

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Data availability

All data are available at the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/6t7c4/).

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Mrs. Emily McDonald from ‘Being with Baby’, Western Australia, for her assistance with facilitating the parent-child classes for this study. We would also like to thank our participants and local community organizations in the City of Joondalup and the City of Wanneroo for supporting us with our recruitment process.

Author Contributions

A.C.R., L.P and T.O.S. conceptualized and designed the study. A.C.R. conducted the intervention with supervision from TOS. A.C.R. performed the data analysis with statistical support from J.L. J.L., L.P. and T.O.S. assisted with interpretation of results. All authors critically reviewed the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Amanda C. Richardson.

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Ethics approval was provided through the Edith Cowan University (ECU) Human Research Ethics Committee for this study (project code: 27263) and all participants provided informed consent.

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Richardson, A.C., Lo, J., Priddis, L. et al. A Quasi-Experimental Study of the Respectful Approach on Early Parenting Competence and Stress. J Child Fam Stud 29, 2796–2810 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01762-w

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Keywords

  • Respectful Parenting
  • Stress
  • Competence
  • Infants
  • Toddlers