Positive parenting
Te whakatupu tōtika i te tamaiti

"Children are learning all the time about acceptable ways to behave. They do not come pre-programmed about right or wrong. They try things out and sometimes make mistakes. Mistakes can be learning opportunities." Children’s Commission Parenting Guide.

What is positive parenting?

When we bring a new child into our family we all want to be amazing parents and grow this child into an awesome adult. But there is no guide book or manual that comes with them! It is pretty hard knowing what is best for your child when you have your first one. Luckily there is a lot of good information and support to help us navigate this parenting journey. One of these approaches is called positive parenting.

Positive parenting is a model using tools, tips, and strategies to grow happy and thriving children. It is based on evidence from positive psychology to help parents to develop positive child behaviours, it coaches parents on how to confidently manage child behaviour challenges, and provides advice on how to navigate the impacts of family changes for children and encourage positive family relationships. It takes an approach that is sensitive to children’s individual needs and addresses the typical challenges that arise in childhood with empathy and respect.

If you are interested in this approach, the “Triple P Parenting Programme NZ” focuses on positive parenting practices to support healthy family relationships and addresses childhood behavior to prevent problems from happening.

There are a number of other parenting support programmes in NZ which also use research evidence to support positive parenting with children. These include

Does it work?

Triple P is based on Social Learning Principles. It has been used in over 30 countries and has been shown to work across different cultures, socio-economic groups and in many kinds of family structures. Research evidence from more than 25 years proves there are good outcomes for children from using this parenting approach. These include better adjustment at school, better mental health for youth, increased self-esteem, less problem behaviours, less conflict and stress in families, increased positive development in children, increased emotion regulation, increased cognitive development, increased resilience, increased social skills among youth, increased attachment security in toddlers which improved school adjustment for children, increased optimism among children, parents had a higher sense of parenting competence, families had higher cohesion and communication.

It shows that not only is it good for children but parents are happier and more satisfied too.

When is parenting a problem for us and the team?

Why would NZDF be interested in parenting programmes? Well the research shows that if we put in good work with our children when they are young we will have healthy, happy and resilient young adults. This is not only good for our NZDF whānau but good for NZ.

On the flip side when our NZDF families are struggling with home stuff it will impact at work. It may be the same as other issues we have talked about and it may mean that parents.

  • Are less focused on the tasks
  • Are worried, sad or unwell
  • Need to take time out to go to appointments to support family
  • Take more time off work
  • Can’t be available for deployments
  • Need to respond to a crisis with children (behaviour problems at school or home, mental health problems for youth) or stay home to support the other parent if there are two of you.

Our NZDF members in uniform are mainly young (over half aged between 20 and 40) which means that most are at the stage of finding partners and raising children. Our commanders are aware of the added responsibilities this brings.

What causes parenting problems?

Most people try to do the best they can with what they know. All parents will come up against challenges at some point with their kids. It’s ok to feel that you don’t know what to do or how to do the best thing for your children – this is really normal. Remember kids are resilient and flexible. So long as you are all safe you can try different things that work for your family to improve the parent child relationship.

Parenting children is one of the most rewarding times in our lives. We will know our own experience of parenting from our own family unless we have done training or education to get some extra tools in our Kete.

Parenting problems can arise because of a complex set of causes. These include if there is conflict between the adults, if there are other social issues in the home (finances, physical health, mental health, addictions, workload, frequent moves, parent being away, lack of support available from family and friends, or little community connection). It could be a mix of dynamics between the parent and child that cause conflict. It could be social or peer groups that influence your child. It could be that you don’t have access to strong cultural support.

Getting help

There are a lot of people you can go to for help with parenting.

  • Friends and family/whānau.
  • Your health provider – GP, Nurse, Plunket, Midwife.
  • Kindy and early childhood teacher.
  • School.
  • NZDF Social Workers (will point you in the right direction and provide hands on tools support and information).
  • NZDF DCF’s.
  • Your health provider – GP, Nurse, Plunket, Midwife.
  • Your Marae, church, mosque, Chaplains.
  • Community groups.
  • Parenting and family service providers – Barnados, Family Works, Parents Centre, Skylight, Maori Womens Welfare League (Whānau Toko I te Ora parenting programme) La Leche league, Kidsline, Youthline, Social Service agencies in your local community – ask your social worker, GP or Nurse.

There are a number of helplines for parents

Self-management resources

There are a heap of resources and information you can tap into either in person or online. Some of them are free and some will have some fees. We recommend the following