How can professionals help parents support their child’s early development?
Use the PICCOLO tool to encourage positive parenting interactions
The Parenting Interactions with Children: Checklist of Observations Linked to Outcomes (PICCOLO™) is a checklist of 29 observable developmentally supportive parenting behaviors with children ages 10–47 months in four domains. It is a positive, practical, versatile, culturally sensitive, valid, and reliable tool for practitioners that shows what parents can do to support their children’s development.
PICCOLO helps practitioners observe a wide range of parenting behaviors that help children develop over time—an approach known as developmental parenting. Parenting strengths—what the parent already believes is important to do and is comfortable doing with his or her child—are a valuable resource for increasing the developmental support available to young children.
(Programs can use PICCOLO in conjunction with the Home Visit Rating Scales (HOVRS), a direct observation tool to assess the quality of home visits. HOVRS can be found in the appendix of Developmental Parenting, a guide for early childhood practitioners by the developer of PICCOLO.)
Set up activities, with input from the family, and choose a comfortable spot for commencing the 10-minute observation of the parent interacting with their child. Ideally, videotape the observation.
During the observation, be positive, practical, culturally sensitive, and sensible. Rate your observations of parent behaviors in the 4 domains (“absent,” “barely,” or “clearly”) while viewing the videotape with the family.
Determine a score in each of the 4 domains.
Share the results with families, emphasizing parenting strengths by focusing on what parents do well and often. Build on parents’ strengths by asking when they can do more of what they’re already doing and how they can do some of the things they are doing well in other domains too.
At a glance
What is it?
A research-based observation measure that shows what parents can do to support their children’s development; it is a strengths-based measure of parenting interactions that predict children’s early social, cognitive, and language development
What are the domains of developmental parenting measured by PICCOLO?
- affection: warmth, physical closeness, and positive expressions toward child
- responsiveness: responding to child’s cues, emotions, words, interests, and behaviors
- encouragement: active support of exploration, effort, skills, initiative, curiosity, creativity, and play
- teaching: shared conversation and play, cognitive stimulation, explanations, and questions.
Who completes it?
Family support professionals such as home visitors, child development specialists, family educators, parenting class leaders, infant mental health clinicians, or people in other similar positions who work with parents to support their children’s development
How long does it take to complete?
PICCOLO can be scored from a 10-minute observation, live or from video
What does PICCOLO help you accomplish?
PICCOLO can be used to do the following:
- assess positive parenting behaviors that predict good child outcomes
- guide individualized positive parenting interventions with families
- track positive parenting outcomes of a parenting support program