Knowledge of Childhood Development and Parenting Confidence of Mothers with Young Children who have Special Health Care Needs.
CPS ePoster Library. MacLellan K. Jun 25, 2015; 99230; 169
Dr. Kathryn (Kate) MacLellan
Dr. Kathryn (Kate) MacLellan
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Young children with special health care needs (SHCN) have unique developmental challenges and require intensive parenting to reach their potential. Mothers are often the primary caregiver and interventions have aimed at increasing their knowledge of early childhood development. Previous research in high-risk populations has found that the combination of high maternal knowledge of childhood development combined with high maternal confidence correlates with competent parenting. Low knowledge combined with high confidence is felt to be more detrimental than low knowledge and low confidence.

To compare the knowledge and confidence levels of mothers with young children (<=6 years) who have SHCN to mothers with young children who do not have SHCN.

A telephone survey of 1452 randomly selected adults included questions regarding knowledge of early childhood development and parenting confidence. A total of 320 respondents were mothers of children 6 years of age or younger; 46 had at least one child with a SHCN and 274 did not have a child with a SHCN. High maternal knowledge was defined as answering correctly at least 50% of the questions in at least two of four developmental domains (physical, cognitive, emotional and social). High confidence were those who selected “strongly agree” at the top end of a 7 point Likert scale. Between-group comparisons were analyzed using a t-test for binomial proportions (p<0.05).

About 70% of mothers in each group were found to have low knowledge. Mothers of children with SHCN were more likely to indicate high parenting confidence (54%) than mothers of children without SHCN (33%). Based on knowledge and confidence level mothers were assigned to one of four groups. A significantly greater proportion of mothers of children with SHCN had low knowledge/high confidence than mothers of children without SHCN (p = 0.03).

A greater proportion of mothers of young children with SHCN fall into the category of low knowledge and high confidence. This combination may have a negative effect on parenting success. Further research is required to determine why this combination is more prevalent among mothers of children with SHCN, and how future interventions might more effectively support parents of children with SHCN.
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