ParentChat aims to promote playful parenting and prevent violence through online support groups for parents/caregivers of children aged 2 to 17. The content is adapted from the Parenting for Lifelong Health programmes for young children and adolescents into a support group programme delivered via online text messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber, Signal, or Telegram.
Programme content includes text/audio messages, video messages, illustrated comics, and home activity assignments for parents to do with their children based on the following themes:
- One-on-One Time between parents and children
- Talking about emotions and stress management
- Positive reinforcement through praise and positive instructions
- Keeping children safe through household rules and daily routines
- Positive discipline and handling crises
- ParentChat is delivered by trained facilitators to groups of 5-15 parents over an 8-week period with two structured chat sessions per week and daily messages to support engagement
- Facilitators moderate chat sessions around a specific parenting theme, support parents on an individual basis, and encourage them to apply the parenting skills at home
- Parents are prompted to give feedback regarding successes and challenges of applying these skills during the week. Facilitators then address this feedback in the next session and discuss possible solutions to key challenges via voice notes
- Facilitators receive weekly supervision from a ParentChat coach
- In some contexts, data bundles are provided for internet access and to incentivize engagement
ParentChat was piloted in 2021 in six countries: Malaysia, Montenegro, Moldova, North Macedonia, South Africa, and the Philippines. Initial findings demonstrated an impact on increased positive parenting and reduced violence against children, child behaviour problems, parenting stress and depression, and intimate partner violence victimisation.
ParentChat is currently being piloted in a mixed-methods feasibility study in Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, South Africa, and the Philippines. The main aim of this study is to examine its initial impact on reducing violence against children and improving positive parenting.