Report from Sweden: New Tools for Parents


This extensive report was commissioned by the Government of Sweden to the Swedish National Institute of Public Health to examine how parent support of various types may be designed to produce quantifiable public good. The study finds that in order to have an impact on parents’ relationships with their children, programs should be based on the universal principles regarding how people learn different types of behaviour.

  • Social learning theory tells us that we learn by observing what others do. Therefore, if parents are gathering with other parents in a support group or drop-in program, they are able to see how others act.
  • The principle of self-efficacy tells us that it is important for people to have faith in their ability to act in a certain way. If the main source of faith is previous success, then promoting positive behaviours by make changes in small steps will increase a parents’ self-efficacy.
  • People’s behaviour is also affected by the information and knowledge they are exposed to. Identifying with another parent or receiving an answer from an expert can have an enormous impact on a parent.

Programs for Pregnancy and Early Infancy

The report recommends 3 programs that work with parents during pregnancy and early infancy.

  1. Right from the Start: This 8 week manual and video-based parenting group is rooted in attachment theory and has already been modified for Canadian use and can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.
  2. The Leksand model: The programs in this region begin during pregnancy and are run by midwives. The same group of parents continue to meet after the baby is born and as they continue to have subsequent children. Keeping the groups consistent over a number of years provides for very strong relationships between group members. Father participate in these groups to the same degree as mothers and overall participation within the community is overwhelming. Check out this Power Point presentation on the details of the Leksand model.
  3. International Child Development Program: This is a group program for parents with small infants and also exists for parents with preschool and school-aged children. It is built around eight interactive themes and uses videos and other visual materials to discuss and practice different approaches. Check out this link to read more about the ICDP programs in Norway.

Interventions during preschool and early school years

The report offers a number of interventions focused on this age group.

  1. The Community Parent Education Program (COPE): This Canadian method was adapted in Sweden and is intended for children aged 3-12. This parenting group meets 8-14 times and has been developed for widespread use. Learn more about the Canadian program by clicking here.
  2. The Incredible Years: This program is run for groups of parents with children 2-7 years old or 4 to 10. Originally developed in the States, this program relies on video and a program guide and can be accessed here.
  3. Komet (Comet): This is a program for parents with children aged 3-12 who exhibit aggressive behaviours, are difficult to come into contact with, or who experience difficulties concentrating or making friends. No online resources could be found.
  4. Active Parenting: This American program was developed by Dr. Michael Polkin and is for parents with children 9 months to 4 years. It includes information on the stages of development, outbreaks of frustration, methods to build self esteem and methods for respecting limits. Visit the website for more information.
  5. The Strengthening Families Program: This American program is a life skills program designed for high risk families. Outcomes include increased family strengths and resilience and reduced risk factors for problem behaviors in high risk children, including behavioral problems, emotional, academic and social problems. Visit their website for more information.
  6. Oregon Social Learning Centre: A number of methods have emerged from this Centre, including Mellow Parenting and Parent Management Training - Oregon (PMT-O) , a method for families in which children have manifest behaviour problems.

You can read the entire report online at New Tools for Parents.