Estimates suggest that 66% of children in a sample of 24 low- and middle-income countries across the globe experience psychological aggression, such as yelling or name-calling, or mild physical discipline, such as being spanked or shaken. In addition, about 16% of children experience severe physical discipline, such as being beaten with an implement or object. These parenting practices negatively impact children’s development. In response, the Windward Islands Research and Evaluation Foundation, through a train-the-trainer model, supports home visitors to change cultural perceptions and parenting practices to reduce harsh punishment of children and promote healthy brain development. Program components include:
- Training existing paraprofessionals with the Ministry of Social Development and Housing, called ‘Roving Caregivers,’ in the Conscious Discipline curriculum. This curriculum develops seven skills among caregivers – including assertiveness, empathy, encouragement, and composure – that promote child safety, positive parent-child attachment, and healthy brain development.
- Conducting structured, routine home visits that establish a pattern of safety, connection, and learning among parents and children. Specific activities involve a prayer, a song, a stimulation activity, an activity to build impulse control, and a skill-building exercise for parents. Roving Caregivers use and model Conscious Discipline skills.
- Sharing respectful discipline methods with parents, other caregivers, and communities that serve as an alternative to traditional childrearing practices. Through spreading this concept, or “meme,” the program aims to alter cultural attitudes, behaviors, and practices.
- Conducting monthly group sessions via a mobile resource unit (the “bus class”) that reinforce home visits. A colorful bus, quickly gaining visibility and national prominence, visits two to three communities per day. Roving Caregivers alert families of when the mobile resource unit will visit to provide toys, books, and further teach, model, and reinforce Conscious Discipline skills.