Psychosocial Stimulation: A Qualitative Study on Kenyan Mother’s Motives and Challenges to Promote Children’s Development

Sarah E. Watts, Paul Oburu, Suncica Lah, Caroline J. Hunt, Paul Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interventions designed to enhance the mental and socio-emotional development of children in low and middle income countries through improving psychosocial stimulation are the subject of national and international organizations research and programs. Before new interventions can be designed and tested in low income countries, it is important to understand what psychosocial stimulation mothers are already providing, how beliefs influence the stimulation used, and what challenges are faced by mothers when trying to do this. We aimed to find out what types of stimulation are being commonly used by mothers in Kenya, alongside exploring the beliefs and associated challenges in providing psychosocial stimulation. This is a qualitative study using focus group discussions held in Kisumu, a regional urban centre in Western Kenya, with 35 mothers caring for at least one child under the age of 5 years. Mothers in this study identified four key themes of commonly employed stimulation: singing, play, dancing and story-telling. A range of challenges were raised such as ensuring their child’s basic physiological needs were met, managing marital conflict, and trusting non-familial caregivers, with mothers concerned that their child may be mistreated through accidental or purposeful harm. Findings indicate that mothers in a low income country are faced with multiple challenges when trying to provide psychosocial stimulation for their child’s development. It is important to consider these results when designing an intervention for this setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1840-1847
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Child development
  • Kenya
  • Parenting
  • Psychosocial stimulation
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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