Solihull Approach | Parenting


Understanding your child’s behaviour

The Solihull Approach 10-week group programme leads to improvements in children’s conduct, kindness and reduction in parental anxiety

Published 24 October 2023

Solihull Approach is delighted to share the findings of a piece of research which examined the effectiveness of the Solihull Approach 10-week group programme: Understanding your child’s behaviour. The article, The Solihull Approach 10-week programme: a randomised controlled trial, published in the Community Practitioner*, provides evidence of the impact of the Solihull Approach programme in improving children’s behaviour, parental wellbeing and parent-child relationships.

The study of 223 participants attending 2-hour classes each week for 10 weeks located in Wrexham, Wales and in Solihull, England, between April 2013 and September 2017 found:

Most notably, the study found improvements in children’s conduct (for example, temper tantrums, obedience, fighting, stealing or lying) and ‘prosocial’ behaviour (for example, being considerate of others’ feelings, sharing, kindness to younger children, helpfulness to others) as assessed using the ‘Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire’.

The Understanding your child’s behaviour programme focuses on developing positive interactions with children and supporting parents to read and understand behaviour as communication. Importantly, the programme was designed at the time to support practice shifting away from a ‘command and control’ parenting style, with a new emphasis on high-quality parent-child relationships. 

Three self-report measures were administered at two time points – before and after the 10-week programme – to assess: child behaviour; parental emotional health; and the parent-child relationship. Statistical analysis of these three variables was used to compare the families engaged with the programme to those of a control group. Comparison with the control group (of 26 waiting list families) makes this a stronger research design than previous studies, and therefore builds upon and strengthens the quality of the evidence base for the Solihull Approach in practice.  

The report’s findings highlight the extensive benefits of a supportive, relationship focussed programme in improving social behaviours and conduct for children and thus also reducing parental stress and anxiety. Researchers suggested that given the representative sample used for the study aligned with national demographic estimates, they have confidence that the course is applicable and at scale would benefit the general population. They noted, however, some perceived barriers to parents accessing programmes funded publicly and a stigma attached to parenting education with some describing they don’t want to be told their parenting is ‘wrong’. In order for communities to realise the benefits of improved parent-child relationships and reflective approaches to parenting, further work is required to support access to this kind of education.  

* Douglas, H. and Johnson, R. (2019). The Solihull Approach 10-week programme: a randomised controlled trial. Community Practitioner, 9 (7), 45-47.

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