Watch out super nanny - Australian parents are doing it for themselves!


The first large scale scientific evaluation of group-based positive parenting programs has found that the intervention reduces clinically significant behavioural problems in children by 36 per cent.

The results of the study, conducted by researchers at Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, have been published in the international journal Prevention Science.

Report co-author Professor Steve Zubrick said the results showed that positive parenting programs are effective and can be offered on a widespread and cost effective basis through child and community health services.

"The potential gains from this are huge. Most parents want to be good parents and are desperate for sound advice and support in raising their children," Professor Zubrick said.

"What this study shows is that all families can benefit from programs such as this, not just those at high risk who would normally be targeted for parenting programs. It's very effective at preventing problems from developing."

The research team evaluated the effects on 804 families with pre-school aged children of the Group Triple P program. The Group Triple P program was developed by Professor Matt Sanders at the University of Queensland and the Health Department of Western Australia based on the Triple P Positive Parenting Treatment Program. It was the first time the program had been offered in group sessions by child and community health nurses. The families were tracked for two years after completing the program and their results compared with another 800 families in a control group.

The study found that families who completed the program reported:

  • Dramatically improved behaviour in children with clinically significant behaviour problems
  • Significantly reduced levels of children developing later behaviour problems
  • Decreased dysfunctional parenting behaviour
  • Decreased parental depression and conflict
  • Significantly lower levels of parent conflict over child rearing

Professor Zubrick said nearly 17 per cent of four-year-old children in Australia are considered to have disruptive behaviour problems.

"That means that if good parenting programs were made universally available and adopted by parents at the same rate as we saw in the study, then the number of children with clinically significant behaviour problems by the time they reached 6 years of age would be reduced by more than 36 per cent," Professor Zubrick said.

"This shows the cost effectiveness for the community and the positive impact on families of good early intervention programs."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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