A New Way to Help Parents? Exploring the Impact of School-Based Interventions on Parenting Outcomes
Objectives: Determine the impact of a school-based intervention on parenting strain and self-efficacy and explore moderators of change.
Methods: Participants included 148 parents (79.1% mothers) of children diagnosed with ASD (n = 50) or ADHD (n = 98) from Title 1 eligible schools in Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. Children were randomly assigned to either Unstuck and On-Target or Parents and Teachers Supporting Students. Parent strain (Caregiver Strain Questionnaire-Short Form 7 (CSQ-7; Brannan et al., 2012)), parenting self-efficacy (subscale from Family Empowerment Scale (FES; Singh et al., 1995)), and child executive dysfunction (two subscales from the Behavior Rating Inventory for Executive Function (BRIEF; Gioia et al., 2000) were measured at pre, post, and follow-up.
Results: There was a significant decrease in subjective parenting strain from pre to post-treatment (t(91) = 3.08, p = .003) and maintained to follow-up (t(73) = 2.10, p = .039). A significant decrease in objective parenting strain was noted from pre- to post-treatment (t(90) = 3.15, p = .002), but effects did not extend to follow-up (t(72) = 2.10, p = .265). Although parent self-efficacy increased from pre- to post-treatment, it was not a significant change (t(85) = -.80, p = .425). After controlling for baseline levels of parenting strain and child executive dysfunction, only change in metacognition significantly predicted change in subjective parenting strain (β = .413, p = .002). Changes in metacognition (β = .276, p = .027) and not behavioral regulation (β = .189, p = .094) significantly predicted change in objective parenting strain.
Conclusions: The current study builds on the encouraging findings in relation to both treatments demonstrating positive changes in child executive functioning and behavioral flexibility. Results demonstrate significant changes in parenting strain and not parenting self-efficacy as a consequence of participating in these school-based treatments. Interestingly, only change in metacognition, or increases in child’s ability to plan, organize, and initiate tasks) significantly predicted change in both subjective and objective strain. Neither changes in classroom observation nor number of parent training sessions attended impacted change in parenting strain or self-efficacy.