Parenting classes and attachments revisited

On 17th May 2012 I blogged about an activity idea inspired by the media interest at the time concerning the Governments provision of a £100 voucher, available in high street stores, to give parents access to parenting classes.

Can parent?

This week the BPS has posted a comprehensive overview of the 2 year trial of these parenting classes on their website (“Parenting classes on trial across England”). The trial itself and the scope of the classes can be found at: http://www.canparent.org.uk/parenting-class.html.

Internal working models and secure attachments

As well as the obvious behaviour management support and advice, the scheme aims to help children to form secure attachments with their caregivers.  The 4 minute video on the site makes reference to parents needing support in helping their children develop a strong sense of who they are”, very much echoing Bowlby’s ideas that a child’s self schema, or template of themselves in relationships, comes from their early childhood experiences.

Student activities

Here are 6 questions/activities which could be used in isolation or combination, after initial teaching of Attachment Theory, to explore this topical issue. The activities/questions are intended to help students achieve a deep understanding of Attachment Theory in context and provide meaningful teacher (and student) assessment opportunities of their understanding and ability to apply their knowledge.

  1. What evidence might the Government use to back up their claim that some parents need help and that the £100, Government funded, voucher is tax payer’s money well spent?
  2. With reference to research, how might this impact on society in the future? (e.g. a reduction in riots, anti-social behaviour, crime rates)
  3. With reference to research in this area explain how parents give a child a sense of who they are and why this is important? (e.g. Bowlby, internal working model, positive relationships in future)
  4. What sort of parental behaviour might compromise a child’s chance of developing a positive working model and a secure attachment?
  5. How would you deliver knowledge of the development of attachments in an accessible way to a wide audience of non-psychologists?
  6. Create a persuasive argument drawing on the research you have learned about, using your skills of analysis and reasoning, that these parenting classes are unlikely to be effective (this way students will have considered two sides of a real world issue as well as critiqued attachment theory and its evidence base!)
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