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The case for a greater role for parents in helping teens

It might have been a small study in terms of numbers. And problems assigning some parents to particular sessions also meant it couldn’t quite be labelled a randomised controlled trial.

But I still find Raziye Salari’s study into families who participated in a trial of Standard Teen Triple P exciting nonetheless.

By showing that parents have a significant role to play in teen development, Raziye’s study points to the importance of parenting across the lifecourse and shines a light on where we need to go in the future.

Raziye Salari was a PhD student who came to the University of Queensland under a scholarship funded by the Iranian Government.

After eight published papers on Teen Triple P, Raziye’s research project is the first to study the effects of Standard Teen Triple P, a one-on-one program.

She recruited parents of children aged between 11 and 16 with emotional or behavioural problems in the borderline or clinical range.

Raziye’s major finding was that families who participated in STTP experienced significant reductions in the amount of conflict between parents and their teenagers. The parents were also much less likely to overreact to their teen’s behaviour with authoritarian-style discipline and were also less likely to be distressed by their teen’s challenging behaviour.

Families who participated in STTP experienced significant reductions in the amount of conflict between parents and their teenagers

While obviously one study is not enough, Raziye’s findings are compelling enough to suggest they would be replicated with larger numbers. And her paper adds to the case that it’s not just the parents of children of the under threes that we should be working with.

Too narrow a focus on early intervention comes at a cost. If you put all your money and resources into helping parents and carers promote positive behaviour in three-year-olds, you’re still going to have a large number of kids who will experience problems when they reach 11 or 12.

The problems in this area is not only confined by a focus on early intervention at the expense of older kids. Most psychologists still view the problems of teenagers as coming solely from within the child and not from the environment that they interact with.

Consequently, most of the work in this area focuses on working with teens alone, neglecting the role of parents and, I might add, the evidence of the effectiveness of parenting programs.

Most of the work in this area focuses on working with teens alone, neglecting the role of parents

Raziye is now working for the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at the University of Uppsala.

Her paper can be read here.

More research on the effects of Teen Triple P can be read here.

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Disclosure statement

The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program is owned by the University of Queensland. The University through its main technology transfer company, UniQuest Pty Ltd, has licensed Triple P International Pty Ltd to publish and disseminate the program worldwide. Royalties stemming from published Triple P resources are distributed to the Parenting and Family Support Centre; School of Psychology; Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences; and contributory authors. No author has any share or ownership in Triple P International Pty Ltd. Alan Ralph is the Head of Training for Triple P International.