Acceptability and early impact of a parenting education programme to promote alternative discipline in Central Uganda
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Poor parenting, especially use of harsh punishment, is associated with both behavioural and health consequences for children. A community based parenting pilot programme, ‘Parenting for Good Behaviour and Respectability’ sought to modify predictors of harsh parenting by discouraging harsh parenting and promotion of alternative discipline strategies in Wakiso district, Central Uganda. The study set to examine how the community parental education programme was culturally adapted, its influence on parent’s perceptions and practices regarding harsh punishment, and barriers to adopting positive discipline strategies. This qualitative research design, involved collection of data using in-depth interviews with parental participants and their children aged between 0 – 17 years old, plus focus group discussions and observation of sessions. Data was subjected to thematic framework analysis. In addition, the programme design involved; developing learning objectives, identifying and adapting existing materials to meet those objectives, and writing new exercises. Furthermore, parents reported that the programme improved their parenting skills, relationships with children and management of emotions. In addition, parents reported that harsh punishment ‘no-longer works’, and explored alternative discipline. However, some obstacles to adoption include limited motivation to use, and familiarity with, alternative discipline seen as time consuming, plus inequitable gender norms. Overall, this project was appreciated by parents, and has potential to discourage harsh punishment in the short term. Further research is needed to assess the long-term impact of the programme on harsh punishment and promotion of alternative discipline techniques.