As part of a large randomized controlled trial, the authors assessed the impact of 2 early primary care parenting interventions—the Video Interaction Project (VIP) and Building Blocks (BB)—on the use of physical punishment among low-income parents of toddlers. They also determined whether the impact was mediated through increases in responsive parenting and decreases in maternal psychosocial risk.
Four hundred thirty-eight mother–child dyads (161 VIP, 113 BB, 164 Control) were assessed when the children were 14 and/or 24 months old. Mothers were asked about their use of physical punishment and their responsive parenting behaviors, depressive symptoms, and parenting stress.
The VIP was associated with lower physical punishment scores at 24 months, as compared to BB and controls. In addition, fewer VIP parents reported ever using physical punishment as a disciplinary strategy. Significant indirect effects were found for both responsive parenting and maternal psychosocial risk, indicating that the VIP affects these behaviors and risk factors, and that this is an important pathway through which the VIP affects the parents' use of physical punishment.
The results support the efficacy of the VIP and the role of pediatric primary care, in reducing the use of physical punishment among low-income families by enhancing parent–child relationships. In this way, the findings support the potential of the VIP to improve developmental outcomes for at-risk children.