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Sometimes a light touch is all it takes: Triple P Seminars show benefits for Indonesian parents and their children

A randomised controlled trial involving Indonesian parents has shown a low-intensity parenting program can significantly improve children’s behavioural problems and parents’ confidence while reducing dysfunctional parenting practices and parents’ stress.

The delivery of the Triple P seminar series to 143 parents in Surabaya, Indonesia, is the first study to show that an evidence-based parenting program can be both effective and culturally acceptable for Indonesian parents.

It is also the first to show that a light-touch intervention can be effective in a developing country and one of only a few studies worldwide to have done so, regardless of the level of the intervention.

The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program takes a population health approach to parenting support with a multi-level system of programs available, from light-touch programs to more intensive, treatment-based approaches.

Professor Matt Sanders, director of the Parenting and Family Support Centre, said the finding was further support for a central tenet of this population approach, the principle of minimal sufficiency.

“We now have a significant body of work that shows that families, whether they are in Indonesia, China, Japan, or Australia, can derive real benefit from having parenting support that is adjusted and delivered in a dose that is appropriate to their needs,’’ Professor Sanders said.

“These were families with moderate problems yet the program still showed effects. It shows that reaching large numbers of parents with a low-intensity program that is both cost-effective and time-efficient is a practical as well as a particularly effective preventative health approach to take in low-resource settings.’’

A graduate of The University of Queensland’s Parenting and Family Support Centre, Dr Agnes Sumargi, currently a lecturer with Widya Mandala Catholic University in Surabaya, conducted significant research work in the lead up to publication of this study in the journal, Child Psychiatry and Human Development.

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Dr Agnes Sumargi.

An initial survey of 273 Indonesian parents living in Indonesia and Australia conducted in 2013 indicated that Indonesian parents often struggle with ineffective parenting practices such as making children apologise for misbehaviour, lecturing or shouting. And a large majority (78 per cent) said if help was available they would attend a parenting program.

In 2014, Dr Sumargi trialled the 90-minute Triple P seminar, The Power of Positive Parenting, with 30 Indonesian parents living in Australia. She delivered the seminar in Indonesian and results of the pilot showed the program was both culturally acceptable and likely to lead to less emotional and behavioural problems in children and less permissive parenting styles.

Then, in the randomised controlled trial published last year, Dr Sumargi invited Surabayan parents of a typically developing child between the ages of 2-12 years to attend the three 90-minute Triple P seminars: The Power of Positive Parenting, Raising Confident, Competent Children, and Raising Resilient Children, once a week. The seminars were delivered in Indonesian and most parents (88 per cent) attended all three seminars.

Dr Sumargi, and co-authors A/Prof Kate Sofronoff and A/Prof Alina Morawska, of the Parenting and Family Support Centre, point out this trial shows that a brief parenting program should now be tested with a wider audience in a community setting.

“Holding the seminar series in community sites, such as child care centres, schools, health care centres and religious sites may be especially beneficial as it can increase parents’ accessibility to and participation in the program.’’

They also suggest that not all parents require an intensive level of intervention, and this research demonstrates that providing a brief parenting program is effective for parents from diverse cultures.

 

 

 

 

Meta-analysis finds Triple P effective in preventing antisocial behaviour and delinquency

More evidence has come to hand that parenting programs are an effective evidence-based strategy to prevent antisocial behaviour and delinquency.

A meta-analysis update on the effects of early family/parent training programs on antisocial behaviour and delinquency (Piquero et al., 2016) is an excellent and timely study which shows the huge value that evidence-based parenting programs represent.

If you think about the costs of violent and anti-social behaviour to society, for very little outlay, parenting programs reward investors many times over.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology, updates and replicates Alex Piquero’s previous work published in 2009 which found that early family/parent training “is an effective intervention for reducing behaviour problems among young children’’.

The authors conclude:

“In short, early family/parent training programs are an important evidence-based strategy that deserves continued application and expansion as part of a more general strategy for building a safer society.’’

In comparing different interventions, the review authors place Triple P’s effect size of 0.56 midway between Parenting-Child Interaction Therapy (0.98) and The Incredible Years (0.37).

This is an extremely encouraging finding given that PCIT adopts a treatment approach, focusing on more difficult cases with “more room to move’’.

PCIT and, to a lesser extent, The Incredible Years are targeted, treatment interventions for families with children with well-established conduct problems.

In contrast, the Triple P multilevel system of parenting support is based on a population-based public health model which seeks to shift prevalence rates across the community.

Triple P’s approach blends early intervention, light touch programs designed with prevention in mind with more enhanced, targeted treatment options.

The Triple P studies reviewed by Piquero et al. included a mix of different delivery modalities such as over-the-phone, self-directed, and television programs – representing a mixture of brief, low-intensity prevention interventions (Sanders, Montgomery & Brechman-Toussaint) – and more intensive enhanced interventions (Sanders, Markie-Dadds, Tully & Bor).

Prevention interventions usually have lower base rates of problems and therefore less room to “improve” whereas treatment interventions such as PCIT typically have higher base rates and much greater capacity to show change over time as well as larger effect sizes.

An intensive intervention with multiple sessions (12 or more) may produce larger effect sizes than briefer interventions (eight or less sessions) but a brief intervention may have greater impact because it’s less expensive to deliver with more families able to be seen with the same allocation of practitioner time.

Generally meta-analyses of parent training have not looked at these issues of cost and population reach that an intervention can achieve.

Both treatment and prevention approaches are important and both need to be incorporated in any effort to treat and prevent anti-social behaviour and delinquency.

However, issues such as practitioner availability and the amount of time that parents can dedicate to participation are important factors that agencies need to weigh up when considering how to implement a prevention health approach.

Social media a force for families

Social media and electronic gaming strategies can have an extremely positive influence on the lives of impoverished families, a study of The University of Queensland’s Triple P Online program has found.

A version of Triple P Online, the web-based version ofUQ’s Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, was ramped up with social media and gaming smarts and made available to disadvantaged families in Los Angeles.

Triple P founder Professor Matt Sanders said the enhanced version – called Triple P Online Community – was designed to encourage parents to participate in the program and share knowledge about what they had learnt.

He said the study included 155 disadvantaged high-risk parents in Los Angeles.

“Of these, 76 per cent had a family annual income of less than $US15,000, 41 per cent of parents had been incarcerated, 38 per cent were in drug and/or alcohol treatment and 24 per cent had a child removed due to maltreatment,” Professor Sanders said.

The study, led by Dr Susan Love of California State University Northridge, set out to test if gaming and social media could successfully engage this traditionally hard-to-reach population, and show benefits to both parents and children.

“The program’s 50 per cent retention rate of participants was extraordinary, given the stress the participating families would have been under just to manage daily life,” Professor Sanders said.

“More importantly, both parents and their children showed improvements likely to lead to better developmental outcomes for those children and potentially more stability and less stress in the lives of the parents.

“Participation in evidence-based parenting programs has also been shown to reduce risk factors for child maltreatment.

“A program able to engage highly vulnerable families and produce outcomes such as these shows just how important it is that researchers think creatively when it comes to finding solutions for families.”

Triple P Online Community was designed by Dr Love, former UQ-based project manager Marianne Maurange and Triple P authors at UQ’s Parenting and Family Support Centre, as well as researchers at the University of South Carolina and the Oregon Research Institute in the US.

Dr Love said one of the most rewarding aspects of the study was finding that parents in the Triple P Online Community actively encouraged each other.

“Parents in the study shared parenting tips and strategies, not just with each other, but with other family members, their friends, teachers and day care workers,’’ Dr Love said.

“They also were far more engaged than the typical social media audience, far exceeding the 90-9-1 social media rule – the idea that 90 per cent of people watch but don’t contribute to social media, nine per cent contribute occasionally and one per cent of users participate a lot.

“In our study, 50 per cent of our parents ‘lurked’ online, 32 per cent shared occasionally and 17 per cent shared frequently.’’

The study is online in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect.

To adapt or not to adapt: Paper finds Group Triple P has ‘social validity’ with African American fathers

shutterstock_219865159Practitioners should not hesitate to use Triple P with African American fathers, a paper co-authored by US researcher Patricia Kohl, of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St Louis, concludes.

The study, published in Best Practice Mental Health, looks at the engagement of African American fathers in Group Triple P by comparing a group which was shown limited Triple P materials, including video resources, with a group who received the full intervention.

Conducted with the use of focus groups and interviews, the study found that providing fathers with only a small amount of information from program resources could actually be a barrier to potential participation – or at least perceptions of the value of the program.

Many of the fathers involved in the study spoke about initial concerns that program materials did not provide examples using African American fathers or urban settings similar to their own. However, fathers who participated in Group Triple P had a much more detailed perspective and could identify with many of the scenarios of daily life presented.

“For fathers who were exposed to the complete intervention, it appears to be a socially valid intervention,’’ Dr Kohl and co-author Kristen Seay, of the College of Social Work of the University of South Carolina, write. “However, when Triple P is used with this population, it is important to tailor examples to the circumstances of culturally diverse groups and to use language with which urban African American fathers relate.’’

The paper points out that since the early 1990s, the diversity of mothers involved in Triple P research has increased but this has not been the case for African American fathers who, until this study, remained almost completely absent from the Triple P evidence base.

The authors also describe how the highly segregated, disadvantaged urban communities in which African American fathers often must parent their children present very difficult circumstances such as high crime rates, drugs, gang violence, and few resources. But assumptions should not be made about a program’s social validity without actually asking the fathers, and those who work to support them, what they think.

“It is essential that practitioners or researchers considering the adaptation of an ESI (evidence supported intervention) to a new culturally diverse population do not make assumptions about how the target population views the intervention or about the fit between the population and the ESI,’’ the authors argue. “The voices of the target population, as well as those of other key stakeholders such as those providing services to the population, must be heard in this process (McKleroy et al, 2006).’’

Interviews with fathers from the two groups are highly contrasted in the paper. After watching a snippet of the Triple P DVD, several fathers across all five focus groups who did not participate in Triple P felt that they could not identify with several aspects of the intervention. One father said:

“When an urban neighborhood has a big crime rate, your kids don’t come home like that. Your mom ain’t cooking at home like that… . If you look at this program, you’d be like it’s not like that in this environment… . It’s a different environment.”

In contrast, fathers who received the complete intervention were far more positive. A number of examples were supplied in interviews of how they recognised themselves in the material and how they applied that information to their lives and saw a difference. One father said:

“I used to be more aggressive with them but now I am just calming down.”

After recognising his role in his child’s behavior for the first time, another said:

“After that session last week, I just went home and I just thought about everything that was going on, and I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t really so much as my kids that were giving me the problem—it was really myself that was causing all the problems.’’

The authors write: “That is a very powerful statement given that the parent is the change agent in BPT interventions. It is through changing the parent’s behavior that children’s behavior improves.’’

They conclude that more efforts are needed to understand the transportability of Triple P to African American fathers and to further explore the acceptability of Triple P by non-traditional service settings, such as father support agencies.

 

To reach parents in a culturally sensitive way we first need to listen to the local community

More than 90 per cent of the world’s children and families live in low- and middle-income countries.

So how do we reach them in a culturally sensitive way?

In our project in Panama, we tested the efficacy of Triple P Discussion Groups with 108 parents from six high-risk, low-resource neighborhoods.

Even though the intervention was delivered in its original form, “intuitive” cultural adaptations took place during delivery.

For example, we started sessions with an ice breaker activity, we worked with local facilitators and used local jargon when giving examples.

I come from a family of social workers in Panama and so my passion has always been to support families living in poverty.  But to help them in a respectful way, I firstly needed to understand what is it like to live and raise a child in a high-risk neighbourhood.

I also wanted others around the world to understand the experiences of families living in poverty.  I was pretty sure that images would speak louder than any words.

The idea then was to film a short documentary in collaboration with two mothers from San Joaquin.

San Joaquin is a high-risk community in Panama City recognized as the epicenter of violence and home to the deadliest gangs in the country.  This 10-minute documentary follows the life of Cecilia and Dora, two mothers who also took part in the Triple P intervention.  It’s interesting to see how both mothers show great resilience in their discourse even though they are facing daily adversity.

Filming this documentary made me understand the importance of using collaborative approaches to increase engagement of community members with new interventions.  This documentary allowed me to give voice to mothers who would otherwise not have any platform to speak up.  They felt as if they were active participants disseminating results from the project and became the main advocates for it.  Participatory research such as this increases ownership, sustainability and ensures interventions fit local needs and culture.

Using this work in Panama as a case example, and in collaboration with other researchers at the Parenting and Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland, I’m currently involved in developing and testing models to approach new communities in a collaborative, participatory way.

We feel it’s important that programs are sustainable once they have been introduced into a new community. In order to do this, we’re exploring models or ways to listen to the community and learn about its local history.

By doing this, we hope to understand how local people who want to bring about change in those communities would like to deliver the program, rather than imposing change from the top down.

We are developing guidelines to conduct cultural engagement in a systematic manner.  These guidelines will provide “conceptual lenses” to practitioners and researchers delivering and implementing Triple P in any context or culture worldwide, such as with families in low- and middle-income countries, refugee parents and Indigenous communities in Australia.

And in turn, we hope to give the voice of change back to the community.

Note: All participants provided written informed consent for the dissemination of this footage for academic purposes.

For more information on the RCT:  Mejia, A., Calam, R., & Sanders, M.R. (2015).  A pilot randomized controlled trial of a brief parenting intervention in low resource settings in Panama. Prevention Science. DOI: 10.1007/s11121-015-0551-1

 

The author with the subject of awe.

The Grandma Hypothesis: We’ve got more resources to draw from than the rest of the animal kingdom but that doesn’t help family conflict

We often hear the old adage, “it takes a village to raise a child”, yet with increasing independence, geographical movement, and isolation how true 300-320 is this? Interesting data out of the US shows that we are indeed more isolated than ever before, with up Windows 10 Product Keyto 40 percent or more of all households containing a single a href=”http://www.infodouane.nl”>parajumpers jas heren 70-494 occupant in cities such as San Francisco, Denver and Seattle.

What is surprising about this is that as humans we know we are

, meaning that we have evolved as a species to work in groups, where a broad range of individuals helps support the mother and father in raising offspring. And you can see this not only in humans, but clearly in other mammalian species, particularly with our closest relatives the chimpanzees and apes where we share up to 97-99 per cent of our DNA.

Gorillas are actually my all-time favourite animal. I fell absolutely in love with them when I watched David Attenborough’s documentary Life on Earth where he comes face-to-face with the mighty silverback and his family. The episode left a lasting impression on me. And in 2013 I was able to go on a trip of lifetime and realise my dream of going gorilla trekking in Rwanda with my wife.

Visiting the gorillas involved a mighty trek through the Virunga Mountains, one of the last remaining places on earth you can see these incredible animals. When I came face to face with the silverback and his family the thing that immediately struck me is how similar we are. Our toenails, thumbs, and most amazingly our eyes – there is no doubt we share a common ancestor. The very next thing I noticed is how the gorilla family or “troop” is so similar to ours. They need a family in order to both survive and thrive. There was dad – the silverback, a number of females (the mothers), and of course the very cute baby gorillas. But where was grandma?

Why Grandma is important

Indeed, this is a defining aspect of the human species: As adults we live much longer after our ability to reproduce finishes, whereas when other species reach the end of reproduction they very shortly pass on. This means, as humans, we have a very long post-reproductive period – indeed we can live for up to 40-50 years longer. And this isparajumpers jas ugo where grandma becomes very important.

The grandmother hypothesis suggests that grandma involvement in family life helps increase her daughter’s fertility and chance of the grandchildren surviving. Indeed, data shows that if the grandmother is present in the family, in some cases it doubles the chances of more children being born. Why? Well, all of a sudden mum has somebody at home to help provide childcare to her other children, whilst she looks after her newborn.

In Australia, more than one million children receive regular child care from their grandparents. That’s one in every four children. On average grandparents provide 12 hours of care per week to their grandkids aged between 0-12 years.

Grandparent involvement in childcare is a very altruistic and compassionate act. Indeed, grandparents often give up some of their working hours, social events, and hobbies to help look after their grandchildren. Grandparent involvement also helps mothers re-enter the workforce, increase family income, and help stimulate economic growth. However, providing regular child care can come at cost.

When grandparents provide regular child care it is not uncommon for  tension, conflict, and disagreement to occur between grandparents and parents, which can negatively impact child development.

For example, researchers have consistently found that parents dislike unsolicited parenting advice from grandparents, and that it contributes to poorer Lenovo IdeaPad V570 AC Adapter grandparent-parent relationship quality.

Despite grandparents being aware of this, they find it difficult to refrain from providing parenting advice, and can struggle with accepting parenting decisions. This of course can lead to family conflict, which in turn, can adversely impact the psychbaby gorillaological adjustment, and parenting practices, of both grandparents and parents. Family conflict and tension can also negatively impact Dell Latitude E6500 AC Adapter children’s social, emotional and behavioural development.

Of course this is not true for all grandparents and parents, as many get along just great, but when tension and family conflict exist between grandparents and parents it can become very difficult for all parties involved.

So how can we help grandparents and parents in this critical and important role of co-parenting?

Evidence-based parenting programs are one of the best ways to help, with meta-analyses showing that parenting programs positively influence child, parent and family outcomes. However, until recently there was no specific evidence-based parenting program yet modified for grandparents.

The Triple P-Positive Parenting Program, in a world’s first, designed and developed a program specifically for grandparents providing regular child care called Grandparent Triple P. And to point out any potential conflict of interest, I must advise that I am a co-author of the program along with Triple P founder, Professor Matt Sanders.

Grandparent Triple P

Grandparent Triple P is a nine-week group program and has three aims: 1) provide a refresher course on parenting strategies, 2) p
rovide communication strategies to enhance the parent-grandparent relationship, and 3) provide coping skills for grandparents to manage the stress of providing regular child care.

The program has been evaluated in two randomised controlled trials, one in Australia with 54 grandparents, and one in Hong Kong with 56 grandparents.

Based on both evaluations the program was found to help improve grandparent confidence, reduce stress, and most importantly, improve childhood behavioural outcomes. Importantly, the Australian trial also found it helped improve parent-grandparent relationship satisfaction.

Researchers are now looking at making a shorter version of the program.

So as humans we are lucky to have grandparents. Unfortunately the beautiful gorilla troop didn’t have a grandma around to help with the upbringing of their offspring. We have been giving evolutionary advantage, which we often do not recognise and acknowledge.

Twitter: @JamesNKirby

 

 

 

school the conversation

Is your child less likely to be bullied in a private school?

 

Is it really the case that more bullying occurs in public schools? And should this affect a parent’s choice of school for their child?

Do these results reflect what’s happening?

HILDA tracked a sample of 13,000 households in New South Wales between 2001 and 2012. The data on schools comes from 2012 when participants were asked a range of educational questions.

Households with school-aged children were asked whether or not their child was bullied at school. A higher proportion of parents of children in state schools reported their child was bullied compared with private schools. The differences were greatest for high schools, with 22% of parents at state schools reporting their child was bullied, compared to 15% in Catholic and 11% in other private schools.

So is this information likely to be accurate? There is no reason to suggest the sample is not representative of the NSW population. However, given the question about bullying is based on one question only (with no definition of bullying apparent in the report), it would be useful to draw comparisons with other research.

Do bullies discriminate by sector?

There is actually very little research comparing bullying rates at private versus state schools. This is probably because schools are unlikely to agree to take part in research that makes direct comparisons between schools on such a sensitive topic.

There is, however, a similar population sample survey conducted by the US government. In this study, parents whose children attended state schools (29%) also reported higher rates of bullying than parents whose children attended private schools (22%). So does this mean an individual child is less likely to be bullied at a private school?

Parents want the best for their child and are attracted to schools that report good data for students on academic, behavioural and social outcomes. But whether your child will have the same experience as children who have gone before depends on whether the results reported are the result of what happens at the school or whether they are inherent to the sample of children who attend the school.

Misinterpretation of statistics

A team of New Zealand researchers conducted some interesting research on individual and school factors affecting students’ academic success at school and later success in tertiary education.

They found the success of a school can be judged by educational programs but not by the demographics of who attends the school. Given general school-leaving results reflect both demography and education programs, they are not a valid measure of a school’s educational quality.

Students’ academic achievement is influenced not only by the educational program a school offers – but by what the individual student brings to the school in terms of genetic capability, family support and prior learning.

Almost all state schools are required by law to accept all students in their catchment area. Private schools are not bound by this requirement. Private schools attract a selective population of students whose parents can afford the fees and who are conscientious enough to have enrolled their child many years in advance.

Most private schools also have enrolment applications that exceed their quota, so they can screen for academic ability and behaviour. These schools do not end up with a representative sample of students (and neither do the minority of state schools that have merit entry).

It is therefore a fallacy that we can deduce the relative benefit schools can provide for our child by simply comparing outcome data across schools.

More at-risk minorities in state schools

There is no research to my knowledge that examines the differences in effectiveness of private or state schools in preventing or addressing bullying. However, we do know that private schools start with different populations of students from state schools.

Not surprisingly, the HILDA report shows that family income and the proportion of parents holding university degrees are highest in non-Catholic private schools and lowest in state schools; state schools also have a higher proportion of single parents.

There are more at-risk minorities in state schools.

The greater diversity of students at state and private schools results in state schools educating more students at risk of being bullied. Several demographic factors on which state and private schools differ have been found to be relevant to the risk of a child being bullied.

Children with a disability are much more likely to be victims of bullying and violence at school than other students, as are children enrolled in special education classes.

Parents’ educational level has also been found to discriminate bullied from non-bullied children. Children whose father is absent (likely to be more often the case in single-parent families) are also at greater risk of victimisation.

This suggests that the differences in victimisation between private and state schools may not be due to a higher level of victimisation across all state school students; rather they may reflect a higher proportion of a minority of children who are frequently victimised.

The 2015 Productivity Commission report also provides evidence that a much higher proportion of at-risk students attend state rather than private schools.

In 2013, 84% of Indigenous students and 76% of students with a disability attended state schools. Nationally in 2013, the proportion of students with disability was significantly higher in state schools (6.2%) than in private schools (3.6%).

Around 10% of children in Australia are bullied on a daily basis. For these frequently bullied children, victimisation tends to be chronic over time. It can continue even when children change schools, which includes crossing from primary to middle or secondary school contexts.

In a study at the Parenting and Family Support Centre, where making a fresh start at a new school was part of an intervention for some of the children, there were at least as many successful transitions for children moving from private to state schools as for children moving from state to private schools. What was more important was the ability of the child to fit in and make friends at the new school.

So is a child less likely to be bullied at a private school?

Although more parents from state schools report their child is bullied than do parents from private schools, this could result from the higher proportion of at-risk students who attend state schools. Therefore we cannot conclude that an individual child will be less likely to be bullied if they attend a private school.

There is bullying at all schools. A number of factors impact a child’s risk of being targeted for bullying. These include school management, the child’s social and emotional skills, support from friends and the parenting they receive.

Children’s friendships at school are an important protective factor against bullying. So whether your child already has good friends or is likely to be able to make good friends at a school is an important factor in choosing a school for your child.

Supportive family relationships help protect children against the emotional consequences of bullying at school, so families should take lifestyle factors such as the financial burden of school fees and long travel times into account when choosing a school.The Conversation

Karyn Healy is Program Coordinator (Psychologist), Resilience Triple P program Parenting and Family Support Centre at The University of Queensland.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Read the original article.

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Treat men as active participants, rather than supporters, and they’ll happily participate in a parenting program

New research into a modified version of Group Triple P in New Zealand could be a game changer when it comes to encouraging fathers to participate in a parenting program.

A randomised controlled trial of a version of Group Triple P for fathers in New Zealand has shown that when men are treated as active participants in the parenting process, rather than being assumed to be there to play a supporting role, men are just as likely as their partner to actively participate in group sessions. They’re also just as likely to benefit and so are their children.

Study authors Tenille Frank, Louise Keown and Matt Sanders said that following the trial, both parents were more likely to report significantly fewer child behaviour problems and increased use of positive parenting practices.  There was also less conflict between parents about child rearing, mothers felt more confident and also reported that their partners’ parenting practices improved.

Given social changes around gender and parenting issues – particularly in middle to upper income countries – it would seem obvious that fathers these days would be more interested in playing an active role in parenting. However, little research had previously been done to see how best to engage fathers or investigate the kinds of issues that fathers would find relevant.

“Parenting programs often involve women training other women to be better parents. Ninety per cent of those who conduct courses are female, and mothers make up 70 per cent of attendees,” Professor Sanders said.

Louise Keown

Louise Keown

Tenille Frank

Tenille Frank

This trial of Group Triple P incorporated a number of new strategies to engage fathers and this began well before actual participation in the program.

Program advertisements were worded to include positive messages about father involvement. Dads as well as mums were also involved in screening interviews about their child’s behaviour and to explain what their participation in the programme would entail.

New content was incorporated to maximize fathers’ engagement and teamwork between parents. Additional topics included explaining the benefits of both father and mother involvement for children’s development and strategies to manage father-identified parenting challenges.

Findings from previous research was used to identify the kinds of issues or problems that dads would be interested in. These included how to balance work and family, how to gain co-operation with their partner in parenting, the range of ways to show physical affection with their kids and how dads can contribute to enhancing their child’s self-esteem.

Other father-identified areas of interest included improving their children’s social skills.

During the group sessions each parent had their own work book. Fathers were asked about their specific concerns, as opposed to just asking the mothers about their children. Fathers and mothers were encouraged to set their own homework tasks between sessions and to each report back their progress on implementing parenting strategies.

When telephone consultations were conducted, the researchers included both fathers and mothers together using a speaker phone or multiple handsets and each parent was encouraged to contribute.

As well as the implications for the way in which practitioners engage with dads, Professor Sanders said the Auckland findings could create a much more compelling case for flexible delivery times by Triple P practitioners as well as making allowances for childcare so that both parents can attend sessions together.

“In the past, the view seems to have been that fathers are reluctant to engage in parenting programs but this study shows that when fathers’ concerns are actively raised during participation to encourage their involvement, gender differences disappear,’’ Professor Sanders said. “Fathers and mothers recorded similar levels of completion of the program, which was high, and similar levels of satisfaction.”

Since the study did not compare a mothers-only intervention with a group involving both mothers and fathers, it’s too early to say from a research perspective that children are more likely to benefit, or more likely to move out of the clinical range of behaviour problems, when fathers as well as mothers attend a parenting program.

However, there is a lot more that can be gained by researchers, providers and agencies from this study, particularly when it comes to the relatively high retention rates. The study authors suggest this might have been due to the fact that because both parents attended together, each was accountable to the other and therefore completion was more likely.

They also suggest that efforts taken to increase teamwork between mothers and fathers, such as joint telephone sessions and tailoring the content for fathers and mothers, may also have contributed to the high levels of program satisfaction.