BACKGROUND:Parent-child interaction therapies are commonly used by speech and language therapists (SLTs) when providing services to young children with language learning difficulties. However, the way parents react to the demands of such interventions is clearly important, especially for those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Parents play a central role in the therapy process so to ensure parent engagement, and to maximize intervention effectiveness, parents' views must be considered. AIMS:To explore the expectations and experiences of parents from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who had taken part in a parent-child interaction programme aimed at promoting language development in 2-3 year olds with language difficulties. METHODS & PROCEDURES:The sample included parents who had a child aged 2-3 years and had attended a parent-child interaction programme to promote their child's language development. Parents were eligible to take part if they were living in the 30% most deprived areas in a city in the North of England that constituted the study site. Ten parents participated in a qualitative semi-structured face-to-face interview in the home. Framework analysis was used to analyse the interview transcripts. OUTCOMES & RESULTS:Parents' expectations before taking part in parent-child interaction interventions contribute to how they may engage throughout the intervention process. Barriers include parents' uncertainty about the nature of the intervention and differing attitudes regarding intervention approaches and strategies. Facilitators during the intervention process include gaining support from other parents, reassurance from the SLT regarding their child's language development, and their own ability to support their child's language learning, as well as increased confidence in how they support their child's development. CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS:Parents respond very differently to parent-child interaction intervention for children with language difficulties, depending on their expectations and attitudes towards intervention. Thus, it is critical that these different perspectives are understood by practitioners before intervention commences to ensure successful engagement. What this paper adds What is already known on this subject Parent-child interaction interventions are widely used to promote child language development. Parents play a central role in the therapy process of such interventions, so to maximize effectiveness, parents must be appropriately 'engaged' in that intervention. This involves attending, fully participating and having appropriate attitudinal and/or emotional involvement. The reciprocal nature of engagement means that parents are more likely to become engaged in intervention over time when they are supported by their SLT. What this paper adds to existing knowledge Parental expectations about the intervention process vary considerably and often need to be negotiated before the start of intervention. Reassurance and supporting positive attitudes to co-working with their SLT may be particularly important for families living with social disadvantage. Supporting parent engagement in parent-child interaction programmes can contribute to the parents' capability to continue implementing language-promoting strategies outside the intervention context and beyond the end of therapy. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? Parents have different expectations regarding programme involvement. Therefore, having a two-way, open dialogue between parents and SLTs from the beginning is clearly important, not only as a way of sharing information but also to build on parents' understanding of what the intervention will involve and trust that the SLT will be able to deliver the intervention in collaboration with the parent. SLTs can enhance parent engagement by supporting parents to feel confident and providing reassurance in terms of their child's development and how they can support their child's language learning.