Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review | 2019
Applying Self-Regulation Principles in the Delivery of Parenting Interventions
An individual’s capacity to self-regulate their cognitions, emotions and actions is an important life skill and emergent developmental competency for both children and parents. Individuals with better self-regulation achieve more positive life course outcomes and are less likely to develop significant mental health, social, and relationship problems. Parenting support programs that promote positive, nurturing parent–child relationships provide a unique multigenerational context to promote the self-regulatory capacity of both parents and children. Such programs provide a meaningful context and many opportunities for parents to enhance their self-regulation capacities, including skills such as goal setting, self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-efficacy, personal agency, and thought and emotion regulation that, in turn, enable independent problem solving and responsive parenting. Parenting programs based on social learning theory, cognitive behavioral principles, and developmental theory typically include structured session activities and homework tasks that can be optimized to promote parental self-regulation. These include enhancing executive functions such as anticipating, planning ahead, following a plan, and problem solving, so that parents acquire greater cognitive flexibility, better impulse control, and are better able to generalize and apply learned parenting principles and skills beyond their immediate concerns to a broader range of child problems and challenging parenting and family situations. We illustrate how positive parenting principles and strategies can promote enhanced self-regulation, and discuss implications for research and practice.