Bugental & Schwartz, 2009: Attributing parental challenges to external causes improved health, well-being, and cognitive function of infants among at-risk parents
In a replication of Bugental et al., 2002, mothers of infants born at medical risk (e.g., preterm), who are at increased risk of mistreatment, received home visits from trained staff 17 times over the baby’s first year of life. In the treatment condition, the visitors asked questions designed to encourage mothers to understand challenges in parenting as problems to be solved. As compared to a randomized control condition in which visitors provided mothers with ideas and information about how to solve problems, this reduced the rate of corporal punishment from 35% to 21%, improved safety in the home, and reduced child injuries at 1-year post intake. The rate of physical abuse within the first year was low in both conditions (4% in the treatment, 5% in the control). Follow-ups at the age of 3 found that the treatment increased mothers’ investment in time and money in more high-risk children, promoting children’s health (Bugental, Beaulieu, & Silbert-Geiger, 2010); reduced children’s aggression (Bugental et al., 2012); and reduced stress markers in children (basal cortisol) and improved children’s cognitive functioning (short-term verbal memory) (Bugental, Schwartz, & Lynch, 2010).