Reflection on raising children improves family life

The Skillful Parenting training program, developed by ICS, helps fathers, mothers and other caregivers in rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania in raising children.
 Rearing children can be challenging, especially when poverty, violence and great inequality between men and women are part of your daily life. The curriculum of the training gives parents insight into how children develop. By way of group discussions and practical assignments, parents are invited to reflect on their role in the developmental process. In 2015 more than 11.000 parents followed the evidence-based training.

Child protection and children’s rights are high on the agendas of many ngo’s. This is a good thing. Yet the huge responsibility that parents and grandparents have in the welfare of their children is often ignored. In Kenya and Tanzania it is a commonly held belief that children should be raised very strictly and with the aid of physical punishment. Parents have been raised this way themselves, pass on what they have learned and are not aware of positive alternatives.

ICS starts at the basis. Through our training program we would like to show parents and grandparents, and let them experience, that there are alternatives. And that a positive approach can have positive effects on all members of the family. Moreover, this training method works to prevent child maltreatment.

What does ICS do to strenghten family relations and protect children?

  • Our Skilful Parenting mastertrainers train and certify facilitators;
  • Parents come together on a weekly basis, during twelve weeks. Under guidance of a facilitator they discuss via parent group sessions seven different modules;
  • Parents gain knowledge, reflect on their role in parenting, share experiences and discuss daily raising dilemma’s;
  • We organise events and with the aid of TV and radio reports, that all have a wide reach, we bring up different parenting themes;
  • We lobby governments at the regional and national levels to increase awareness and for policies and laws regarding parenting. 


Seven modules

During the meetings all sorts of parenting themes are brought up and being discussed. Parents feel supported to try out new skills on parenting. The Skilful Parenting training consists of seven different modules:

Collaboration with Agrics farmer groups

We believe that special attention for parenting knowledge, skills and confidence together with a sustainable increase in income brings major change in family functioning and child wellbeing. Therefore we work closely together on Skilful Parenting with the farmer groups of Agrics.

Agrics, a social enterprise by ICS, provides smallholder farmers with inputs on credit and it works on capacity strengthening on how to farm more effectively. By doing so Agrics aims to improve the harvests and income of smallholders. The integrated approach we apply here is chosen because our own observations suggests that the risks of child maltreatment and poverty are related.

Participation of the farmer groups to the Skilful Parenting training is on a volunteer basis. Every group has around 18 to 24 participants. By working with groups that have already formed, there is (at least in part) already a sense of trust among the members. Also after the training, participants can then share their dilemmas, questions and insecurities with people they know and continue to learn from each other.  

Effects Skilful Parenting scientifically proved

In 2014 and 2015 two researchers from the University of Utrecht looked into the effects the training program had on families in Western Kenya. The results are particularly positive. The program has had a clear impact: parents feel more capable and self-confident and have become more aware of the supportive role they play in the social, emotional and mental development of their children. Communications between parenting partners and their children has changed as well, which has improved the interaction and cooperation among family members. Moreover, parents are using less physical punishment and more often choosing a positive alternative to correcting behavior in their children.

Learn more on Skilful Parenting

ICS-SP is the local ngo that implements the Skilful Parenting program in Kenya and Tanzania. For more information on Skilful Parenting and Child Protection have a look at the website of ICS-SP.


The Skilful Parenting Programme of ICS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.