A review of parenting programs in developing countries: opportunities and challenges for preventing emotional and behavioral difficulties in children

Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2012 Jun;15(2):163-75. doi: 10.1007/s10567-012-0116-9.


Many children in developing countries are at risk of emotional and behavioral difficulties, which are likely to be elevated due to the effects of poverty. Parenting programs have shown to be effective preventative strategies in high-income countries, but to date the research on their effectiveness in lower-income countries is limited. International organizations such as the World Health Organization have called for the implementation of programs to prevent behavioral difficulties through the development of stable relationships between children and their parents. The aim of the present paper was to review the literature on parenting programs in developing countries in order to identify challenges, opportunities and directions for further research. First, reports of international organizations were reviewed in order to gain a preliminary overview of the field. In a second stage, a non-systematic review was carried out. Databases were searched in order to identify empirical evaluations of parenting programs in low-income countries. Finally, a systematic review was carried out to specifically identify evaluations of programs targeting emotional or behavioral outcomes. Only one study had a strong methodology among those designed to prevent emotional and behavioral outcomes. Opportunities for further program development and research are identified.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education
  • Humans
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Program Evaluation