A spotlight on the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program

Published on Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Last updated on Thursday, 13 May 2021

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Despite our best intentions, parenting isn’t always easy.

It can be hard to stay cool, calm and collected in the midst of a morning rush or a midnight meltdown, and when challenging behaviours strike, many parents feel upset, uncertain or simply overwhelmed.

Fortunately, help is at hand.

The research-based Triple P – Positive Parenting Program is available across New Zealand (with Triple P Online free for all Kiwis), and it has already helped over four million children and parents around the world to feel better, find good routines, and set limits that really work.

To learn more about positive parenting strategies, we spoke with Triple P’s New Zealand manager, Jackie Riach.

What exactly is positive parenting?

Some people think positive parenting means no discipline at all (it doesn’t). Others think it’s a set of rules that every parent must follow. But really, it’s a way of parenting based on research about what works best for developing loving and responsive families, essential for optimising children’s development.

So, it doesn’t mean letting kids do whatever they like or constantly praising them, following a set of one-size-fits-all rules, or feeling guilty if you’re not ‘the perfect parent’!

Positive parenting does mean:

  • Building strong, loving family relationships and good communication.
  • Helping parents feel more confident and competent. As a result, parents communicate better, feel more relaxed and are happier in their parenting.
  • Using everyday situations and opportunities to help children learn pro-social skills and motivate them to do their best.
  • Planning ahead to prevent problems.
  • Staying calm, and responding consistently and assertively when problems do occur.
  • Teaching children to self-regulate and deal with big emotions in constructive and non-harmful ways.
  • Looking after yourself as a parent (or grandparent, or other caregiver), including by learning more about regulating your own thoughts, feelings and behaviour to reduce stress.

Children grow up happy and learn what’s expected of them when their parents are warm and loving, yet able to guide them and set consistent limits. So, the best thing you can do for your children is to be calm and consistent in your use of positive parenting strategies.

Parenting is a skill just like any other that can be taught and can be learnt. Whether it’s learning how to get our children out the door on time without yelling, or how to get them into bed and stay there all night, or teaching them how to get on with others, simple and mindful changes in our approach to parenting can make a big difference.

What does the Triple P program offer parents and other care-givers?

The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program helps parents raise happy, confident and resilient children. It shows ways to encourage pro-social behaviour, prevent problems and respond assertively when problems do occur. The program also helps parents to have less stress and enjoy being a parent more, which is good for everyone.

Triple P is an internationally-acclaimed parenting program that’s based on decades of research about what works for families. It’s backed by more than 340 trials and evaluations, and provides parents of young children, older children and teens with proven parenting strategies.

Triple P doesn’t tell parents what to do. It’s more like a kite of ideas. You choose the strategies you like, and how you want to use them.

How can Kiwis learn positive parenting techniques with Triple P?

All families are different, so Triple P has a range of ways for New Zealanders to learn about positive parenting, and parents can access support in the way that suits them.

If you’d like to do Triple P, you can choose from: 

  • Triple P Online - Learn about the positive parenting strategies in an eight-module online course that you can do whenever, wherever you want.   There’s a course for parents of toddlers to tweens, and also Teen Triple P Online for parents of tweens and teenagers.
  • Triple P Online and Teen Triple P Online are free in New Zealand.
  • Group sessions - Choose from one-off seminars, two-hour workshops and longer courses, all done in the company of other parents.
  • One-on-one sessions with a Triple P practitioner near you – These personal sessions could be a few quick meetings, or a longer-term arrangement to support you as much as you need.

There’s extra help available for families dealing with more challenges (e.g. you’re really stressed, angry or depressed); parents who have a child with a disability; parents who are divorced or separated; or families needing strategies to keep their child healthy and active.

What are the main techniques that parents learn in the Triple P Online course for toddlers to tweens?

This course consists of several modules that teach parents skills that will help them now and all the way through the child-raising journey. The modules are:

Module 1: What is positive parenting?

This module, covers the five basic principles of positive parenting, looks at ways to build strong family relationships, create a safe, interesting environment, and just basically gets you started.

Module 2: Encouraging behaviour you like

This module provides six simple strategies to help you see more of the behaviour you like, and less of the not-so-desirable behaviour.

Module 3: Teaching new skills

This module helps you effectively support the ongoing development of your child’s emotion regulation, problem-solving and communication.

Module 4: Managing misbehaviour

When problems occur, it’s important that you have a plan that you can put in place quickly and decisively. This module gives you strategies to set ground rules and follow through in a way that’s positive and works for everyone.

Module 5: Dealing with disobedience

This module shows you how to help your child learn limits, be more cooperative and reduce the day-to-day battles.

Many parents say their homes become much calmer and quieter once they have a parenting plan, and this module contains strategies to teach your child to be more cooperative.

Module 6: Planning ahead to prevent problems

This module offers troubleshooting tips to make life smoother, more predictable, and more enjoyable for everyone.

Module 7: Making shopping fun

Knowing how difficult shopping is for many parents of young children, this module includes some new strategies and a solid plan to put in action when you’re out and about.

Module 8: Raising confident, capable kids

This module provides positive parenting strategies to build your child’s resilience, social skills and independence.

We all need good coping skills to get over disappointments and stay calm and in control of ourselves when things don’t go our way, or in times of unexpected change and stress, so this module sets your child up for life!

In light of the global pandemic, there’s also an extra COVID-19 module which is all about helping children cope well with change and uncertainty and regulate our own emotions. It provides practical tips to manage busy and stressful times.

What are the key messages that parents can take away from the Triple P approach?

Respect for others and personal resilience are life skills that can be taught and can be learnt, and there is no greater teacher or role model than a child’s own parent or carer.

Raising children in a calm, positive, nurturing environment with clear expectations and routines in place is proven to strengthen whānau, prevent and reduce problems, and improve family mental health and wellbeing.

It can really bring the pressure down at home when parents learn how positive parenting works. Small changes can make a big difference to the whole whānau, so I really encourage Kiwi parents to learn more about the positive parenting strategies and get some tips that will make being a parent easier and more fun.

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