Nurturing Parenting Programs® (NPP) are curriculum-based, educational programs that generally work with the entire family.

What are Nurturing Parenting Programs?

Nurturing Parenting Programs are curriculum-based programs that work with the entire family. Nurturing Programs focus on family life skills including healthy communication, non-abusive discipline, how to have family meetings, developing empathy, preventing child sexual abuse, substance abuse, dealing with anger, etc. 

When and where do Nurturing Parenting Programs take place?

Nurturing Parenting Programs take place in communities throughout the state of Vermont and are offered free of charge. Many programs begin in the early fall (September or October) or the winter (January or February), but we conduct programs throughout the year.

How do families benefit from Nurturing Parenting Programs?

These programs are based on six assumptions:

  • the family is a system

  • empathy is the single most desirable quality in nurturing parenting

  • parenting exists on a continuum;

  • learning is both cognitive and affective

  • children who feel good about themselves are more likely to become nurturing parents

  • and no one truly prefers abusive interactions

Families participate in weekly 2 ½ hour sessions that meet from 9 to 18 weeks, depending on the curriculum used.

Parents learn from discussion, activities, presentations, video tapes, and home practice:

  • What children think and feel

  • What to expect from children at different ages

  • How to deal with little frustrations before they become big ones

  • How to recognize and deal with children's feelings and needs

  • How to recognize and attend to their own feelings and needs

Children learn through games, songs, art activities, puppet play and discussion to:

  • Control their behavior

  • Increase their sense of self-worth

  • Understand their strengths and limitations

  • Recognize their own feelings and express their needs

Do Nurturing Parenting Programs take the place of therapy?

Nurturing Parenting Programs do not take the place of individual or family therapy. Families experiencing domestic violence, untreated sexual abuse, substance abuse, or other immediate crisis will be encouraged to seek therapeutic support to stabilize themselves before attending Nurturing Parenting Programs.


Parents learn ways to bond with their baby by examining the adjustments to being pregnant, discussing the physical and emotional changes occurring, strengthening the bonds between the partners, learning ways to nurture oneself, and preparing for parenthood. Parents also examine their parenting attitudes, learn non-hitting ways of discipline, practice infant massage, and develop their empathetic awareness of their needs and their infants' needs.



NURTURING PARENTING PROGRAM for Families with SCHOOL-AGE Children (ages 5-11) (15 weeks)

These two programs are designed for parents and children to attend together. Parents and children take part in separate, age-appropriate activities as well as share food and family nurturing time together. Parents learn what children think and feel; what to expect from their children at different ages; how to deal with little frustrations before they become big ones; how to recognize and deal with children’s feelings and needs; and how to recognize and attend to their own feelings and needs. Children learn how to control their behavior; increase their sense of self-worth; understand their strengths and limitations; and recognize their own feelings and how to express their needs. 

NURTURING SKILLS FOR FAMILIES (ages 0-11) (14 weeks)

NSFF is an innovative program designed to empower parents and parent educators in creating customized, competency based parenting programs to meet the specific needs of families. There are a set of 80 lessons to select from, each lasting between sixty to ninety minutes. The lessons are taken from the evidenced-based Nurturing Parenting Programs for Parents and Their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, and Parents and Their School Age Children. Based on the needs of the families, parent educators select lessons from the curriculum to form a parenting program that is customized to meet the specific needs of the families (generally 16 weeks long). The NSFF program maintains the fidelity of the evidence based Nurturing Parenting model, yet offers flexibility in meeting the needs of families with children from birth to 11 years old.


Here, families learn nurturing communication strategies, how to recognize each other’s needs, how to understand the period of adolescence, and ways to build their own personal power, self-esteem, and self-concept. Families also discuss pregnancy delay, sex, sexuality, AIDS, suicide, and peer pressure. 

Nurturing Parenting Program for Young Parents and Their Children (16 weeks)

This is targeted at young parents needing to learn parenting skills as well as how to nurture themselves and their children. Young parents learn developmental milestones of growth, how to have fun with their children, nurturing parenting routines and ways to help children build their self-esteem and self-concept. Teens also learn about ways to delay pregnancy and issues of peer pressure, sex, sexuality, date rape, personal power and ways to build their own positive feelings toward self.Adults with special learning needs often find it difficult to participate in parent education programs. 

NURTURING PROGRAM for Families in Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery (18 weeks)

This is designed for parents who want to become better parents as they turn their lives around and become clean and sober. Many parents in this program have lost custody of their children and are working hard to regain custody. Through the program, they are able to learn about child development as well as making healthy choices for themselves and their children. They see how their choices have affected their children and they learn how to become better role models for their children, who can then grow up in safe, nurturing, supportive and loving environments. 

Nurturing Father’s Program (13 weeks)

This program focuses on developing attitudes and skills for male nurturance. Each week, a new topic is addressed, including: their own relationships with their fathers, nurturing themselves/their children, fathering sons/daughters, discipline without violence, playing with their children, managing anger/resolving conflict, teamwork with spouse, balancing work and parenting, communication and problem solving, cultural influence, dealing with feelings, and working on “The Father I Choose To Be.”    


Nurturing Program for Foster and Adoptive Families (12 weeks) 

Foster and adoptive families can find it difficult to participate in typical parent education programs. This program is flexibly designed for foster and adoptive families where there can be many special needs, including emotional problems, language and learning challenges, and cultural issues. It offers helpful nurturing and family skills for family members adjusting to changes. Topics addressed include making the choice to become a foster/adoptive family; integration of children into the family; expectations of children; awareness of issues around attachment, separation and loss; and understanding of assimilation and accommodation. The program can be set up for foster families, adoptive families, or both. It can also be adjusted depending on the ages of children involved.

Nurturing Program for Military Families (15 weeks)

During this course, the challenges of parenting in the stress-filled life of a military member and family are discussed. The uniqueness of military life, how being a military family and a reserve/guard family can make one feel isolated, finding supports for military families, growth and development of children, developing empathy, managing and communicating feelings, and discipline (highlighting alternatives to use of corporal punishment) are covered. Several “hot” topics relevant to the unique character of military families are also discussed (e. g., PTSD, separation anxiety, reunification fears, periods of separation in couples relationships, as well as, discipline and relationships with children). In this class, we focus on positive family routines and positive discipline.


The Nurturing Parenting Programs are quantitatively evaluated through two pre and post-test instruments, the Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory-2 (AAPI-2) and the Substance Use Questionnaire. The AAPI-2 is a scientifically validated tool that measures participants’ parenting attitudes in five constructs that are present in abusive parents and indicate the likelihood for abuse and neglect. The constructs are: inappropriate expectations of children; lack of empathy; belief in corporal punishment; parent-child role reversal, and oppression of children’s power and independence.