Including dads in positive parenting programme

Thursday, 2 July 2015, 11:32 am
Press Release: Auckland University
Including dads in positive parenting programme improves children’s behaviour

University of Auckland research has found that including dads in a positive parenting programme adapted to enhance father engagement to help them deal with frustration after a baby. Teamwork greatly improved the behaviour of children, their own parenting practices, and the family’s overall relationship.

Dr Tenille Frank, and Dr Louise Keown of the Faculty of Education and Social Work, and Professor Matt Sanders of the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology wrote “Enhancing Father Engagement and Inter-parental Teamwork in an Evidence-Based Parenting Intervention: A Randomized-Controlled Trial of Outcomes and Processes.” The study has now been published in Behavior Therapy, a top international journal devoted to the application of the behavioural and cognitive sciences.

The study included 42 families with children aged between three to eight with behavioural difficulties. The families had enrolled in a Group Triple P Positive Parenting Program that had additional father-relevant content and involved fathers in all aspects of the programme. The programme was run over eight weeks and comprised group sessions where the parents were taught a variety of positive parenting techniques.

Dr Frank says the father-relevant content was based on data collected from New Zealand fathers about topics they considered important to have in a programme. This included how dad and mum influenced their child’s development, ways to show affection, and ideas for spending quality time with your children.

“When mum and dad are a team working together, both learning the techniques, both seeing the results, they’re more likely to use the strategies in the future,” Dr Frank says.

At the end of the programme the parents reported significantly fewer child behaviour problems and increased use of positive parenting practices. There was also less conflict between parents about child rearing. Mums also reported increased parenting confidence and that their partners were more frequently using positive parenting practices.

Dr Keown says fathers are typically underrepresented in parenting programmes and there is limited evidence about programme effectiveness for Dads. “There’s no doubt this programme worked as well for fathers as it did for mothers.”

“The study underscores the need to make programme advertising, content and delivery inclusive of both parents and highlights the value of efforts to increase father engagement.”

Professor Sanders says it’s often been that women, train other women to be better parents, with 90 per cent of the people who give the courses being women, and mums making up 70 per cent of the attendees.

“What the study is doing is extending knowledge about how best to engage fathers. It can be a win/win for both mothers and fathers and children.”

“The greater fathers are involved early in children’s development the greater likelihood they will continue to maintain that investment over time.”

He says the research shows that Triple P can deliver parenting services to be gender inclusive to both men and women so everyone benefits.