Blog: Early childhood intervention can help children manage the unique challenges of growing up in 2022

Blog by Parents Plus a charity from Ireland delivering parenting and mental health programmes to professionals.

Quality of parenting is the single most important determinant, affecting children’s development, behavior, mental health and long-term outcomes, as well as affecting the next generation.  It is commonly recognised that early parenting support from specially trained professionals can help parents ensure optimal development of their children to manage these challenges. Children today are experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety and poor physical health, all negatively affecting their self-confidence, relationships, and school life.  Indeed, over a quarter of Irish children are either over weight or obese. These early years are a crucial time to provide proven tools to parents to help them to develop their children’s self esteem, improve school readiness and establish routines that are critical to developing resilient young people.

The need to support our children has never been greater.

Parents Plus evidence based parenting programmes are delivered by professionals from early childhood, health, community, and education settings. The suite of programmes we have developed are tailored to the diverse needs of families and are backed by 25 years of research. Professionals choose to train in the parenting programmes that best fit the needs of the families they work with, and they receive ongoing support from the Parents Plus team. With a robust evidence base and well defined outcomes, professionals use our programmes to provide parents with the tools to ensure the best start for their children..

The Parents Plus Early Years Programme and The Healthy Families Programme were developed to support front-line professional services in response to the complex needs of parents and help them to manage the significant challenges they face, ultimately improving their family’s well-being and strengthening their links with other parents.

  • Early Years Programme

The focus of the programme is to support parents and carers to increase their skills in positively engaging with their children, tuning in to their child’s needs, and responding effectively. The professional training focuses on building on parents’ strengths as a basis for ongoing change along with strengthening inter-agency and community partnerships. The outcomes for parents who attend included the ability to manage tantrums and misbehavior, help build their children’s language development, help them concentrate and learn, and increase their children’s self-esteem. The programme is suitable for parents of children aged 1 to 6 years, including young children with additional needs, and has a strong evidence base showing a positive impact for families who attend the programmes in terms of improved behavior and a reduction in parents’ stress levels, with an overall increase in their feelings of satisfaction as parents.

  • The Healthy Families Programme

Of the estimated 80,000 children and adolescents with obesity in Ireland, about 18,000 have ‘severe’ obesity. Our Healthy Families Programme was developed to meet the growing need for support and is suitable for frontline professionals such as dieticians, and public health nurses working with families with young children aged 1 to 12 years. This Professional Programme is relevant to all areas of modern family life. Helping with the issues that parents look for the most support with such as routines, screen time, mealtimes, and establishing good sleep patterns for their kids. Parents who participate in the programme learn how to improve their families health and well-being, promote healthy eating and mealtimes, incorporate active play and physical activities into their day, establish good routines for sleep and ultimately build positive family relationships. The Healthy Families Programme gives parents the tools to address issues positively and ultimately it will help you empower parents to create healthy and connected families improving the well-being of everyone.

About Parents Plus

We are a charity that trains and mentors professionals who work in Community, Health, Education, and Disability services, to improve outcomes for families, with our evidence-based parenting and mental health programmes. In the last 10 years, Parents Plus has supported over 1,000 organisations, in Ireland and internationally, to create sustainable change in their service delivery, strengthening over 100,000 families. To learn more about us and our work please contact Vicki Byrne