Responsive, Sensitive and Reflective Parenting. The Value of Parental Support in Merseyside; A qualitative study

Oliver, Clare
Responsive, Sensitive and Reflective Parenting. The Value of Parental Support in Merseyside; A qualitative study. Master of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Background: Throughout the world it is thought that over 200 million children are not reaching their full developmental potential. In the UK it has been estimated that just under half (48%) of children are not reaching a level of ‘good development’ by the age of 5 years. This is particularly the case in children from inner-city areas such as Liverpool, Merseyside. Research has shown the importance of responsive, sensitive and reflective caregiving in improving a child’s development and research has demonstrated the need to support parents with this. The UK government provides parents with support with their parenting via various services and policies including Health Visitors, Midwives and children’s centres. It is not clear however, which services parents in Merseyside are accessing and what support they value. In October 2015, the control of funding for all children’s services will be passed to local authorities and children’s centres’ funding is under a 2 year period of review and so it is a crucial time to question what, how and why parents use the support networks and services they do. By doing so we can better cater the services to the needs of the parents and hopefully improve childhood development in Liverpool, Merseyside. Aim: To understand how caregivers from different backgrounds in Merseyside know and learn to be responsive, sensitive and reflective to their babies. Where they go to for support and what services they value. Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were chosen as the main research methods for gathering data. The eligibility criteria included all English speaking caregivers of children aged less than 2 years old. Interviews and focus group discussions were audio recorded and transcribed. Thematic content analysis was used to identify key themes in relation to the study aims. Results: 22 parents were interviewed, 21 mothers and 1 father. One focus group discussion was held with 5 participants. Parents spoke of requiring additional support when their child was ill, due to their child’s sleep routine, to overcome isolation and as single parents. Parents used a variety of services and people to support them with their responsive, sensitive and reflective caregiving. This included their partners, family members, other mothers, children’s centres, Health Visitors, BAMBIs breastfeeding support and the internet. It emerged that ‘relationships’, ‘professionalism’ and ‘experience’ were crucial factors in the support valued by parents. This included forming a positive relationship with health care professionals and utilising the expert knowledge of staff running a service. It also included the ability to discuss their child’s development with other mothers as well as comparing experiences. Conclusions: Services which support parents in the early years of their babies’ lives should consider the importance of the relationships they form with their parents, especially when delivering advice. Health Visitor leaders should consider deploying the same Health Visitors at weigh-in sessions each week to improve the relationship with parents in the hope that parents will make greater use of this service to support them in their caregiving. Children’s centres were a vital support service for parents interviewed as the staff had formed positive relationships with parents, they were professionally trained and centres provided an opportunity for parents to meet other mothers and overcome isolation. Therefore it is hoped the local authorities will consider renewing their funding in two years’ time.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Philosophy)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-08 (completed)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2016 14:43
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 00:48
DOI: 10.17638/02029759