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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Parent Participation: Helping Parents to Become Involved in Their Child’s Treatment

Parent Involvement is Essential

Research supports the idea that children have the most gains, particularly in developing adaptive behaviors and skills that last over time, when their parent is involved. Parent involvement is essential to the long term development and learning of a child.

Parent’s Point of View

To help parents become more of an active participant in their child’s services, including in applied behavior analysis, be sure to consider the parent’s point of view. How does a parent see a particular behavior? What are the parent’s thoughts on a certain intervention?

View the parent from the perspective that the parent is an expert on their child. They can provide valuable insights into how their child functions and what is likely best for their child.

Although the service provider has knowledge and skills that can be valuable to the child and the parent, assuming that the parent knows their child best can help support the parent’s participation in that child’s treatment.

Consider Parent Preference for Approach to Learning

Consider the parent’s preference for how they would like to receive your assistance.

Do they want you to demonstrate certain skills with their child so they can learn by watching? Or do they prefer you to explain the skill to them and then they can go practice it with their child on their own?

Reinforce the Parent’s Efforts

Be sure to reinforce the parents’ efforts in any way that you can even if its simply by recognizing with words that you noticed they helped their child learn something new.

Parents don’t get enough credit for the work they do with their children, so any little bit you can give them can go a long way.

Take Small Steps

Take small steps. When anyone is changing something in their life or learning something new, it can be helpful to take small steps toward that goal.

For example, if the goal is to provide parents with the skills to help their child complete a bedtime routine, its okay to explain the many strategies that may be involved in this goal. However, be sure to focus on one small thing at a time so parents don’t get overwhelmed.

As a parent becomes more comfortable and more efficient at using skills they learn from you, you may be able to add in more steps or more complex recommendations.

Consider the Parent’s Goals

Consider the parent’s goals. Be sure you take the time to really think about what parents want for their children and themselves.

Don’t be too quick to start creating behavior plans that you forget to really listen to what is important for a parent.

Helping Parents to Become Active Participants in Their Child’s Development

These are just some examples of how you, as a behavior analyst or service provider can increase participation by parents in a child’s services, and therefore, become more of an active participant in the child’s development.

If you have other recommendations for how to increase parent participation in treatment and in their child’s development, leave a comment below.

Parent Participation: Helping Parents to Become Involved in Their Child’s Treatment

Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA

Heather is a freelance writer, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and social worker. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, as well as Autism, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services. You can view more articles and resources from Heather at and email her at You can also advertise your autism services at one of Heather's websites: Heather is the developer of the "One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum."


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2020). Parent Participation: Helping Parents to Become Involved in Their Child’s Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from