Positive parenting

The University of Queensland’s Triple P – Positive Parenting Program is changing the lives of children and families right around the world.

As any parent knows all too well, raising children is one of the most rewarding – but difficult – jobs any person can ever do, but most people don’t consider taking training in how to do it.

The University of Queensland’s Triple P – Positive Parenting Program is helping to change this by developing a rigorously researched framework of training and support that is tangibly improving the lives of millions of families around the world.

The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, developed by Professor Matt Sanders and his team, gives parents the skills they need to raise confident, healthy children and teenagers and build stronger family relationships.

The program is designed as a system of training where accredited Triple P trainers train and accredit practitioners who deliver the multi-level program to parents. The program also encompasses a resource library, as well as an online program parents can access directly.

Triple P has been a phenomenal research success, progressing from an academic endeavour to a scalable, sustainable and global program that’s been delivered in 28 countries around the world, in 22 languages – including Farsi, Japanese and Mandarin.

But the real winners are the families who participate in the program, with the evidence showing parents and children alike can experience dramatic and long-lasting benefits.

“Triple P gives parents simple and practical strategies they can adapt to suit their own values, beliefs and needs, which helps them feel more confident and competent about managing day-to-day family life,” Professor Sanders explains.

“Children who grow up with positive parenting are more likely to develop the skills they need to do well at schoolwork, build friendships, and feel good about themselves.

“They are also much less likely to develop behavioural or emotional problems when they get older.”


Community impact

Triple P is distinctive in that it is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ course. Rather, it is a system that offers increasing levels of support to meet parents’ different needs.

Parents can choose from a wide range of individual programs, from one-off public seminars and online programs, to more intensive group-based courses and individual counselling sessions, as well as self-help books and DVDs.

Professor Sanders says the program’s population health approach – where all families in the community are given access to the right amount of help suitable for their particular needs – means its impact can be felt at a community-wide level.

“Once attending a parenting program is seen by the community as not only normal, but desirable, then those families most in need of help will feel encouraged to access support.”

The latest international research shows learning and practising positive parenting improves the health of communities.

For example, an independent evaluation of Triple P’s population approach in the Irish Midlands found across the population, parents and children experienced a range of health improvements after Triple P was made freely available to parents of children aged up to eight.

Community-wide reductions in child maltreatment indicators have also been demonstrated in communities where Triple P has been made widely available.

Triple P’s population health approach draws on social learning theory developed in the 1960s and ’70s, but also blends cognitive behavioural principles, developmental theory and public health approaches.

Originating from Professor Sanders’s PhD thesis in 1979, the program has been developed over nearly four decades, with many research collaborators and students in Australia and overseas contributing to its evolution and evaluation.

But the heart of Triple P’s development remains at The University of Queensland, where Professor Sanders, a Professor of Clinical Psychology, is the director of the Parenting and Family Support Centre, which is dedicated to using research to create a world where parents, families and communities thrive.

Positive parenting UQ The Triple P program has been delivered in 28 countries around the world in 22 languages.


International impact

As part of Triple P’s development, UniQuest, The University of Queensland’s main commercialisation company, played a major role in negotiating the commercial agreement for the program’s delivery, establishing a licence in 2001 for commercial partner, Triple P International, to disseminate the program worldwide.

The perpetual licence to distribute Triple P has endured through the program’s substantial growth, which has seen it evolve into a multi-level population-health system that is regarded as one of the most extensively evaluated evidence-based parenting programs in the world.

More than 88,000 practitioners worldwide from 29 countries are trained to deliver the program, which is available for families of children from birth to 16 and tackles a broad range of issues, including conduct problems, school bullying and childhood obesity. 9000 professional training courses have been run worldwide since 2001.

Triple P has also been extended into a parallel system, Stepping Stones Triple P, for parents of children with disabilities. Both this and the original Triple P system have been tried and tested in a number of culturally diverse populations.

Positive parenting UQ Triple P programs are available for families of children from birth to 16.


The evidence says it works

Triple P’s rapid expansion across the globe is impressive, and the reason for its success is simple: it works.

No other parenting program in the world has an evidence base as extensive as Triple P. Over 1000 articles have been published about Triple P involving 37 countries. More than 345 papers evaluating the program have been published around the world, with half of these being independent evaluations. These include 175 randomised clinical trials and many service based evaluations.

Triple P’s success has seen it ranked number one on the United Nations’ list of parenting programs, and its overwhelmingly positive results have caught the attention of experts across the globe.

For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended evidence-based parenting programs, including Triple P, be integrated into services provided by US medical practitioners to reduce the toxic effects of poverty on children’s health.

Triple P was also showcased at the White House as part of an initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of colour – and all youth – showing quality research can improve the lives of individuals and families while providing community-wide benefits. 

Evaluations have also shown Triple P is a worthwhile investment. For example, a Washington State Institute of Public Policy economic analysis estimates a benefit return of $10.05 for every dollar invested in Triple P in the prevention of child maltreatment.

To further expand Triple P’s reach, a book – The Power of Positive Parenting – is now available, which aims to inform policymakers globally about Triple P’s success and positive influence on families and communities.

The book also aims to support practitioners and researchers by providing a wealth of knowledge about the program and its research.

Professor Sanders says the book showcases how Triple P can be used to improve health and wellbeing on a global scale.

“We know parenting is critical for children’s positive development, including their mental health, but what we are excited about revealing is the impact parenting can have on how well a community functions.

“The book explores how we can create more sustainable and healthier communities that are kinder to the environment, encourage increased economic prosperity and more even income distribution, and help keep our children safe with the power of positive parenting.”


Find out more about the Triple P ­– Positive Parenting Program

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