Video-led feedback programme reduces behaviour problems in children as young as 12 months

  Mum and toddler  Credit: KE ATLAS

A home-based parenting programme to prevent childhood behaviour problems, which very unusually focuses on children when they are still toddlers, has proven highly successful during its first public health trial.

The six-session programme involves providing carefully-prepared feedback to parents about how they can build on positive moments when playing and engaging with their child using video clips of everyday interactions, which are filmed by a health professional while visiting their home.

It was trialled with 300 families of children who had shown early signs of behaviour problems. Half of the families received the programme alongside routine healthcare support, while the other half received routine support alone. When assessed five months later, the children whose families had access to the video-feedback approach displayed significantly reduced behavioural problems compared with those whose families had not.

All of the children were aged just one or two: far younger than the age at which interventions for behaviour problems are normally available. The results suggest that providing tailored support for parents at this earlier stage, if their children show early signs of challenging behaviour – such as very frequent or intense tantrums, or aggressive behaviour – would significantly reduce the chances of those problems worsening.

Children with enduring behaviour problems often experience many other difficulties as they grow up: with physical and mental health, education, and relationships. Behaviour problems currently affect 5% to 10% of all children.

The trial – one of the first ever ‘real-world’ tests of an intervention for challenging behaviours in children who are so young – was carried out by health professionals at six NHS Trusts in England and funded by the National Institute for Health Research. It was part of a wider project called ‘Healthy Start, Happy Start’, which is testing the video-based approach, led by academics at the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London.

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Image: Mum and toddler

Credit: KE ATLAS

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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