The Australian researchers found that families who had gone through the program reported less behavioural problems with their grandkids.
Designed to encourage better communication between the generations, the “refresher course” is helping older people get back in the caregiving groove.
“The main reason we wanted to focus on grandparents is that there still aren’t that many parents getting involved with parenting programs,” James Kirby, the study’s lead author, told Reuters Health.
Lasting nine months and roughly 15 hours, the grandparents program focuses on parenting, the relationship between grandparents and parents and unhelpful emotions such as anxiety and anger.
Another program also tailors for grandparents who have come to be custodians of children.
Grandparents who completed in the program reported improved confidence, better relationships with their own children and less depression, anxiety and stress, compared to those who didn’t take part in the program.
For the new study 54 older people who were providing at least 12 hours of care per week to grandchildren who were between ages two and nine were selected.
28 grandparents were randomly assigned to participate in the program. The others served as a comparison group.
All of the grandparents and parents periodically completed questionnaires about the children’s behavior, their own parenting styles and confidence and the grandparents’ adjustment.
At the beginning of the study, all of the children scored similarly on a scale that measures the severity of behaviour problems between 0 and 36 and the frequency of those problems between 36 and 252. Higher scores indicate worse behavior.
The children whose grandparents participated in the program began the study with an average behaviour severity score of about 13 points and a frequency score of about 122 points. Those fell to about 7 and 101 points, respectively, after the program.
Among children whose grandparents didn’t participate in the program, behaviour severity scores remained the same at about 11 points throughout the study. Scores reflecting frequency of behaviour problems increased from about 116 points at the start to about 119 at the end.