Research-Based Benefits of Parental Guidance & Coaching on Child Development

Parent coaching, child development, developmental delay, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy


With healthcare systems overrun, and families unable to access support easily, can parents provide support to their children when guided by a qualified professional? The simple answer is yes!

The role of parenting in child development cannot be overstated. As a parent, you are the primary caregiver to your children, and you are ultimately responsible for providing them with the resources and guidance they need to thrive.

The benefits of parent participation and caregiver-mediated interventions are highlighted in several research studies with improvements documented in parenting skills, self-growth, parent-child interactions, children’s cognitive ability, social functioning, adaptive skills as well as parental self-efficacy.

Getting support through a process of parental guidance means that therapists use a combination of parent coaching, modelling, providing support, information sharing, and teaching different intervention techniques that can be used with their child in natural environments i.e. home and school.

Research shows that interventions that include modelling, coaching and feedback can increase parental flexibility and their ability to learn to use strategies, so therefore a few brief moments of feedback at the end of an intervention session is not going to have the same effectiveness. It’s vital that when a parent goes away from getting support from a professional for their child, they have the tools, knowledge, and support to transfer those strategies to daily life.

The benefits of accessing support through a platform like Gabadoo allows for parent coaching techniques to be utilised by a therapist who makes observations, listens, and instructs the parent to learn the skills needed to support their child’s skills while also allowing for feedback and the adaptation of strategies over time which is necessary.

The therapeutic process with a therapist has a back-and-forth rhythm consisting of a collaborative relationship, constant sharing of information and feedback, and therefore it is about guiding the process and not about ‘fixing’. We also adopt a strengths-based approach on Gabadoo where the strengths of the family are a core focus while also acknowledging challenges but not adopting a deficit lens to intervention.

Parent coaching isn’t just beneficial for providing general guidance and support around everyday parental concerns, but research highlights the various benefits relating specifically to Occupational Therapy (OT) and Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) as well. OTs and SLTs are experts in not only child development but also developmental delays, meaning their depth of knowledge is invaluable when providing parental guidance on how to understand and support a child’s development. For example, an OT might provide guidance on how to use play to help a child develop specific motor skills, whereas an SLT might provide strategies on how to encourage a child to use language during everyday routine activities.

To learn more about Gabadoo’s ethos click here


References & Additional Research

The effectiveness of parent participation in occupational therapy for children with developmental delay, 623-630, DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S158688

May-Benson TA. Best practice occupational therapy for children and families in community settings. Occup Ther Health Care. 2012;26 (4):318–320.

Hanft BE, Rush DD, Shelden MLL. Coaching Families and Colleagues in Early Childhood. 2nd Edition. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes; 2004.

Tomchek SD, Koenig KP. Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press; 2016.

Lin CL, Lin CK, Yu JJ. The effectiveness of parent participation in occupational therapy for children with developmental delay. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2018 Feb 23;14:623-630.

Case-Smith J. Systematic review of interventions to promote social-emotional development on young children with or at risk for disability. Am J of Occup Ther. 2013;67(4):395-404.

Kaiser AP, Hancock TB. Teaching parents new skills to support their young children’s development. Infants and Young Child. 2003;16(1):9-21.

Enroth (2021). Parental guidance in occupational therapy: Promoting the participation of children with autism spectrum disorder in everyday life activities - a scoping review.

Green J, Charman T, McConachie H, Aldred C, Slonims V, Howlin P, et al. Parent-mediated communication-focused treatment in children with autism (PACT): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2010;375(9732):2152–60.

Kasari C, Lawton K, Shih W, Barker TV, Landa R, Lord C, et al. Caregiver-mediated intervention for low-resourced preschoolers with autism: an RCT. Pediatrics. 2014;134(1):e72–e9

Pellecchia, M., Beidas, R.S., Mandell, D.S. et al. Parent empowerment and coaching in early intervention: study protocol for a feasibility study. Pilot Feasibility Stud 6, 22 (2020).

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