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Helping Mothers Help Their Chlidren Cope with Sresss: A Program for Latina Mothers

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

One of the most important tasks of childhood is learning to cope with stress. Child-only programs for facilitating children’s coping skills currently exist; however, few programs have been developed to help parents help their children cope with stress. Parent only programs are promising because parents are in a position to help children cope with stresses as they occur and can tailor their support to the child’s individual needs.

The current poster will present results of a randomized control trial evaluation of a parenting education program to help low-income, Latina mothers help their preadolescent children cope with stress. Focus groups informed program development and the program was piloted twice before implementation. The implementation took place in a large urban area and a rural community in the western U.S. Ninety-seven mothers of 9- to 12-year-old children recruited from community organizations participated. Intervention mothers completed a five-week program in groups of 4-8 mothers. All mothers completed questionnaires at baseline and the week after the program ended.
Based on Band and Weisz’s (1990) coping model, mothers were taught to identify controllable and uncontrollable aspects of stressful situations and to use primary control coping strategies to cope with aspects of situations that they could control and to use secondary control coping strategies to cope with aspects that they could not control. Mothers were first taught to apply these concepts to coping with stresses in their own lives and then taught how to scaffold such coping strategies in their children (see Figure 1). Mothers were also taught to recognize signs of stress in their children and taught emotion coaching skills.

Mothers completed assessments of parent scaffolding of children’s coping with stress (Power, Hill, & Bumpus, 2009), program-specific coping knowledge, emotion coaching (Paterson et al., 2012), parenting self-efficacy (Johnston & Mash, 1989), and general parenting (Slater & Power, 1987). The intervention and control groups did not differ at baseline on any of the variables. Analyses of covariance on the post-test scaffolding scores (controlling for baseline scores) showed that intervention mothers were more likely to help their child understand the situation, talk about feelings, normalize the situation, help their child see something positive in the situation, communicate that things will get better in the future, talk with friends/family about how to help their child, come up with a plan to fix the situation, distract their child, help build their child’s self-confidence, and help their child relax. Intervention mothers scored higher on emotion coaching and reported less disciplinary inconsistency. Finally, intervention mothers reported higher levels of parent-child communication and knowledge about how to help their child cope with stress.

The results of this RCT provide support for the short-term efficacy of this program. Further research should examine if these effects are long-term in the period after the intervention and if the children of intervention mothers employ more effective coping strategies. Finally, it would be useful to examine which types of stresses this program has the greatest effects on and what modifications might address additional types of stressors.

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