Supporting parents and healthy behaviours through parent-child meetings – a qualitative study in the Netherlands

  • Gülcan Bektas (Creator)
  • Femke Boelsma (Creator)
  • Carline L. Wesdorp (Creator)
  • Jacob C. Seidell (Creator)
  • Vivianne E. Baur (Creator)
  • S. Coosje Dijkstra (Creator)



Abstract Background The first 2 years of a child’s life have been found to be crucial to healthy growth and development. Parent support groups can help parents to promote health-related behaviours during this crucial period. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of parents who participated in a parent support group (Parent-Child Meetings) which promoted health-related behaviours of their children, and to determine whether and how these meetings supported them in promoting these behaviours. Methods We used a qualitative study design. The parent support group consisted of weekly Parent-Child Meetings organized in a multi-ethnic, relatively low-income neighbourhood in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Data on the experiences of parents was collected through participatory observations, informal conversations (n = 30 sessions) and semi-structured interviews (n = 13) between April 2019 and March 2020. The data was analysed using thematic content analysis. Results Parents indicated that they experienced the parent-child meetings as enjoyable and as providing them with socio-emotional support. They reported that the meetings increased their parenting knowledge, skills and practices regarding healthy behaviours of their children and that they used this knowledge in their daily lives. They also appreciated the practical information and advice provided by experts in the meetings. Parents indicated that the positive attitude of the experts was crucial in accepting and adopting their advice. Additionally, parents valued the interactive and hands-on workshops, which integrated health-related behaviours and active play with children, as it enabled them to learn while they played with their children. Conclusion This study indicated that parent-child meetings contributed to enhancing parental knowledge, skills and practices regarding healthy behaviours of their children. This could potentially benefit the health of children during the first 2 years of their lives. In particular, the peer support of other parents, the hands-on workshops, and the concrete advice and information provided in an informal setting were highly valued by parents. Future parent support groups could use these findings to improve their meetings or to start meetings that better suit the needs of parents with young children.
Date made available2021

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