Short Term Interventions Enhance Parent-Child Relationships

Becoming new parents and caring for infants is a stressful time for adults. Memphis parents are often burdened by other stresses such as poverty, domestic violence, or single parenthood, which have lasting effects on children’s early brain development. Forging healthy and stable parent-child relationships, and effective parenting can become difficult in such environments. Factors such as parental education and steady income can ease some of this stress. One study asked if short-term interventions by health professionals could also provide for a less stressful environment for new parents, and optimize early brain development by strengthening the parent-child relationship (Guthrie et. al. 2009).

Researchers devised a pilot study in which at-risk patients (racially and ethnically diverse, low income and dependent on governmental health insurance) received two different interventions. The first, Touchpoints, trained hospital staff to encourage effective parenting through awareness and education. The second intervention was short-term home nurse visitations to observe, review and improve parenting methods. Emphasizing the importance of parent-infant attachment and bonding, stress recognition and copping, and parental sensitivity, both interventions have shown to be effective support for parents in a number of other communities.

The study ultimately asked if parenting could be improved by short-term interventions. Researchers divided the study into an intervention group of 33 participants who received services, and a non-intervention group of 39 participants who did not. Finding that the intervention group scored significantly higher on learning materials and responsiveness than a non-intervention group, it is clear that short-term interventions are indeed effective (Guthrie et. al. 2009). This finding also has important implications for early brain development as well as parent-child relationships. Given the at-risk population chosen for this study, these interventions show to be effective in promoting nurturing parenting attitudes and behaviors.

THE TAKE AWAY: Memphis families struggle with many factors that make parenting difficult. This can have a damaging effect on the early cognitive development of our children. Knowing what types of interventions reduce stress and build stable parent-child relationships can help our community foster successful parenting, and ultimately, help our youngest children develop into successful adults.


Guthrie, Katherine F., Cecilie Gaziano & Emanuel P. Gaziano. (2009). Toward Better Beginnings: Enhancing Healthy Child Development and Parent-Child Relationships in a High-Risk Population. Home Health Care Management & Practice 21:2, 99-108.