Improving parenting, improving practice Helping parents struggling to care for their children

Helping parents who are struggling to care for their children can make a big difference, both now and in the future.

Children are neglected when their parents can't or won't meet their needs. Problems in parents' lives can make it harder for them to care for their children, these include:

  • past abuse
  • domestic violence
  • mental illness
  • disability
  • poverty
  • a drug or alcohol problem.

Helping children get the support they need

We're testing 2 different ways to reduce neglect through helping parents of children aged between 2 and 12 develop a better bond with their child and understand what they need. These are Video Interaction Guidance and Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P).

Video Interaction Guidance 

Using a filmed clip to show parents their strengths, this builds their confidence and encourages them to think about how they respond to their child.

A mum sitting with her daughter on her lap reading to her and laughing

How it works

  1. We visit a family at home (or occasionally somewhere else) and film the children playing a game or doing another activity with their parents.
  2. We edit the film to highlight what's gone well.
  3. We watch the film with the parents.
  4. We highlight the positive things the parents have done, helping to build their confidence in their parenting.
  5. We help parents to find ways they could do things even better.

Visits normally take place over 8 weeks and at the end, we give the family a film to keep which shows how their relationship with their child has improved. We'll also discuss how they can keep on track in the future.

Video Interaction Guidance was developed in the Netherlands in the 1980s by Harrie Biemans and colleagues. It was adapted and brought to the UK by Hilary Kennedy at Dundee University.

Positive Parenting Programme

Also known as Pathways Triple P, Positive Parenting Programme helps parents to:

  • manage stress, anger and mood swings
  • improve how they communicate with their child
  • improve their parenting skills (including how to handle challenging behaviour)
  • increase confidence in their parenting.

We will visit a family at home and help parents agree some goals to aim for. We'll help parents to reach their goals both during the visits and in the future. Normally, we'll visit a family for 10 weeks but this can be longer if they need extra help. Parents practice what they have learned between sessions.

Triple P was originally developed in the 1980s by the University of Queensland, Australia. Pathways Triple P is a further development of this.

Children's stories

"I was concerned that the NSPCC would judge me and potentially take my daughter off me for being a bad parent."

Read Mel's story

Evaluating the impact

Find out how we're evaluating Improving Parenting, Improving Practice.

Learn more

Where Improving Parenting, Improving Practice is available


02920 108080


0141 440 6300


01472 803 500


01733 207620

Thriving Families

Helping to define, detect and tackle neglect and provide the right support for families.
Thriving Families service

Graded Care Profile

Assessing the care of children and identifying neglect.
Graded Care Profile service

Evidence Based Decisions

Reviewing family situations to protect children at risk of harm.
Evidence Based Decisions service


Encouraging, informing and promoting better parenting to protect young children from harm.
SafeCare service

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Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs. It's dangerous and children can suffer serious and long-term harm.
Read more about neglect

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.
Read more about physical abuse

Emotional abuse

Children who are emotionally abused suffer emotional maltreatment or neglect. It's sometimes called psychological abuse and can cause children serious harm.
Read more about emotional abuse

Child abuse and neglect

Find out what child abuse is, how to spot the signs, who is affected and what you should do if you're worried about a child
More on abuse and neglect

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Our services help children and families who need support. With your help, we can make sure even more children are safe from abuse. 

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It's time to demand change

The government doesn't know how many children have been abused and need support. Find out what we've been fighting for.

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