The Adoption Skills Course
The DFW Adoption Parenting Programme (DFWAPP) that we deliver here for our adoptive parents, is based on, and uses the Incredible Years parenting programme.
There are many pieces of research, which have established that the Incredible Years programme is effective in promoting positive parenting. i.e. promoting children’s behaviour which you want to see more of whilst helping to manage behaviour which you want to se less of.
However can broader claims be made for it? In particular, could the programme help parents to promote a more secure level of emotional attachment in their children? This is a crucial issue for families who have adopted, particularly, as many children whom they parent, have been assessed as having disorganised emotional attachments. Often this is as a result of the child’s early experiences of poor and neglectful parenting, allied to changes of caregivers.
For us, it is important to ask ourselves;
“Does the impact of their parents doing the Incredible Years training, help the child to develop new, more secure, Internal Working Models about their social and family relationships, and how they fit in with the world? “
In short, what is the impact on the child of increased sensitive and responsive parenting, which the course promotes? Can we make any therapeutic claims for this parenting training?
Hence, it is of great interest to read recently published research into this area. The researchers undertook a large-scale study of 5and 6-year-old children in 4 inner London Schools. Some of the parents undertook the training whilst others didn’t. The children’s attachment patterns were assessed both before and after using the Manchester Attachment Story task model. They found significant movement towards a more secure emotional attachment in the group of children whose parents had completed the parenting training.
Thus it is significant when parents say after completing the training (as they have) , that they have recognised that it’s what they do which is important, and have realized that they need to think about their own behaviour as a parent as much as their child’s. Once they start to apply the course material to the way in which they respond to their child, in a sensitive and perhaps, more attuned way, we have seen an improvement in parent child relationships.
Attention needing behaviour such as soiling, shouting aggression are all reported to have diminished, and parents have said that they have been able to work more collaboratively with their child with an increased sense of family unity and identity.
It feels that there has often been beneficial movement in the child’s responses to others, and their thoughts and feelings become better organized. Thus from our point of view, to find research which supports the view that the DFWAPP has the potential to enable children, who have experienced levels of disruption, to develop more secure emotional attachments is very important, and further strengthens our belief that this is a critical area of our work here.
“Social Learning theory Parenting Intervention Promotes Attachment –Based Care-giving in young Children” O’Connor et-al Pub Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology on line 28/9/12