Parents’ Experiences When Seeking Assistance for Their Children With Challenging Behaviors

Sharon L. Doubet, Michaelene M. Ostrosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experiences of seven parents, whose preschoolers engaged in persistent challenging behaviors, were investigated. Individual interviews with each parent, member checking, and follow-up discussions to seek clarity on participants’ comments were conducted. Four major categories of responses emerged from the data as parents shared their journeys of seeking assistance for their children: (a) challenging behaviors and first concerns (i.e., ages and descriptions of concerns), (b) steps taken to access support (including the number of times parents sought support and from whom, as well as the type of feedback they received when seeking support), (c) challenges faced when seeking assistance, and (d) supports that were helpful for parents. Results revealed that parents initially sought support from child care staff and medical professionals, persisted when seeking support, and offered several suggestions to improve the systems of support and services. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-185
Number of pages10
JournalTopics in Early Childhood Special education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • challenging behaviors
  • child care
  • help-seeking
  • parents
  • preschoolers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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