Parents’ experiences of being in the Solihull Approach parenting group, ‘Understanding Your Child’s Behaviour’: An interpretative phenomenological analysis.


Background: Empirical evidence suggests that the Solihull Approach parenting group, ‘Understanding Your Child’s Behaviour’ (UYCB), can improve child behaviour and parental well-being. However, little is known about parents’ in-depth experience of participating in the UYCB programme. This study provides an in-depth qualitative evaluation of UYCB, focussing on possible moderating factors and mechanisms of change that may inform programme development. Method: Ten parents (eight mothers and two fathers), recruited from seven UYCB groups across two locations, were interviewed within 7 weeks of completing the group and again 10 months later. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: Four themes were identified: ‘Two Tiers of Satisfaction’, ‘Development as a Parent’, ‘Improved Self-belief’ and ‘The ‘Matthew Effect”. In summary, the majority of parents were immensely satisfied at both completion and follow-up: they valued an experience of containment and social support and perceived improvement in specific child difficulties, their experience of parenting, their confidence and their coping. Most parents appeared to have developed more reflective and empathic parenting styles, with self-reported improved behaviour management. Theoretical material was well received, although some struggled with technical language. Positive outcomes appeared to be maintained, even reinforced, at follow-up, and were associated with having few initial child difficulties, perceiving improvement at completion and persevering with the recommendations. Two participants, whose children had the most severe difficulties, perceived deterioration and felt that the group was insufficient for their level of difficulties. Conclusion: Through in-depth analysis of parental experiences, UYCB appears to achieve its aims and communicate well its theoretical principles, although change may also occur through processes common to other group programmes (e.g. social support). Recommendations, stemming from the experiences of these parents, include simplified language, separate groups for parents with complex needs, greater emphasis on the importance of perseverance, and additional support for parents who appear to be struggling to make changes.