We’ve all wished for a ‘parenting manual’ at one point or another. For some, it was the day you were handed your newborn. For others, it may have been the toddler years, or starting school, or tweenager-dom — or all of the above!
So what would you say if we told you there is a guide to positive parenting? With strategies, tips and ideas that work for everyday parenting challenges — big or small, scary or just those you’d want to be reassured with.
Enter Triple P — Positive Parenting Program. The Australian program used around the world that is backed by research and proven to work by parents. The Triple P online course (for those with children under 12) arms parents with 17 positive strategies to build confidence, skills and parenting knowledge, resulting in stronger relationships and closer bonds with your kids and improvements in their future growth and development. And of course, to foster happier families.
Here, parents who have participated in the Triple P program share some of the tips that helped them.
Think long-term toddler goals, not short-term fixes
Jen says one of the Triple P modules addressed toddler tantrums, something she is currently experiencing with her two-year-old toddler, Paddy. “It’s a challenge for any parent experiencing a toddler kicking or screaming for a packet of lollies in the supermarket,” says Jen. “The Triple P tip that really resonated with me was to consider the long-term implications of short-term, snap decisions. For example, if I give in to my toddler’s behaviour and give him the lollies, then that is rewarding him (‘accidental rewards’). It might be a short-term fix, but it will cause problems long-term. Instead, I need to think about the skills that I can teach him now to help him manage his tantrum in the future.”
Jen, mum of Paddy, two, and 30 weeks pregnant with second child, Sydney.
Trust your gut
Nilofar says she learned a lot from course modules, but two things stood out for her. The first, to trust your gut. “There is a reason why we have a parental instinct, and it’s right more often than it’s wrong,” explains Nilofar. “Even if you get it wrong, be kind to yourself, and don’t shut off that inner voice.”
The second tip Nilofar learned was to manage parenting information overload. “There is a lot of information and advice out there and it can get overwhelming. Find yourself ‘one voice’ — one good source of advice that resonates to help clear the confusion.”
Nilofar, mum to eight-month-old Remi, Sydney.
Arm yourself with parenting strategies that work
Jil enrolled in the Triple P Online for Baby, for parents and carers who are expecting or have a baby(s) under 12 months. She says this had myriad positive benefits. “I think since I’ve done the program I’ve had better tools to put in place when things maybe go a bit wrong, and that’s really helped me stay calm in situations and it’s definitely helped us bond a bit more. Knowing Triple P is backed by university-based research, that really helped me trust the information and know that I was actually getting valuable information from a reliable source. I did the entire program on my phone, usually while I was breastfeeding, and so doing that meant I was able to do it. I also really enjoyed that I could pop in and out at any time. It didn’t matter — it’s just really short, easy to do bits.”
Jil, mum of four-month-old baby, Canberra.
Take one challenge at a time
Kate says one of the Triple P themes to help children dealing with anxiety is centred around transforming difficult moments and coping with challenges. She says when she faces a challenge as a parent, she thinks about different mantras, or words of wisdom, that were shared with her over the years by other mums.
“There’s a few sayings that help me during challenging times. One is, ‘You don’t get that many summers…’ We think about the hard times and challenges. But we overlook the lazy summers, the good moments we have with our kids. It’s important to recognise the ‘good’ moments too.”
Kate says the second saying she recalls when in the thick of parenting challenges is to be grateful for what she has. “One day I was in the supermarket with all five children — from two babies in a pram to tweens. I was struggling and must have looked very overwhelmed. This old lady walked over to me and said, ‘You only regret the babies you don’t have.’ This struck me — that there are so many people struggling with infertility, and really puts it into perspective how lucky I am to have five children.”
And the third saying Kate loves is, ‘Tomorrows a brand-new day — and there are no mistakes.’
“We can start fresh every day. And when things are really overwhelming, like when you have two babies crying non-stop, just focus on surviving the next 15 minutes. I just push through 15 minutes at a time — I find breaking the day down into manageable chunks really works. Sometimes getting through the day, the week, the month… is just too much.”
Michael Herd, psychologist with Triple P said, “Kate’s comments highlight the importance of looking after yourself as a parent. If you’re not well looked after it’s difficult to be calm with the children.”
Practice attentive parenting
The way we have been raised can influence our own parenting style. But having a child can be a great opportunity to re-write the parenting-child dynamic, for the better. Says Yoshi: “It would have been easy to parent on ‘auto-pilot’, doing what my parents had done. Instead, I now pay attention, to see and understand what’s going on in his mind.”
Yoshie, mum of two-year-old, Brisbane.
Understand mental health challenges
Jules says enrolling in the Fear-Less Triple P Online for parents and carers of anxious children (6+) was a positive move for the whole family. “The Fear-Less program has helped us not only build our children’s emotional resilience and given us a better understanding of what anxiety looks like, but also given us some tools that the whole family can use in the long term.”
Jules, mum of three, Brisbane.
Expert Tip: “Parents are the experts on their own children and the Fear-Less Program builds on that expertise so parents can better support their children who experience anxiety,” said Michael Herd Psychologist from Triple P.
Deal with anxiety in a positive way
“I was most interested in the module that discussed anxieties in children. I was a separated mum who married very young, had two children and then divorced. I’ve since re-married and blended mine and my second husband’s lives together. With this naturally comes anxieties and stress for both parents and children, but a key piece of advice I have always handed out and previously received, was that children are really resilient and in this whole world, all they need is to be loved. So my best advice is to ‘love and love hard’, ‘love them unconditionally’ and ‘respect their boundaries’. Also, to never ever stop hearing them, never stop noticing them and ride the waves of emotion with them.
“We all feel anxious at times, but let children know that when they’re feeling a little funny in the tummy, that this feeling is totally normal. Together you can find strategies to work through it.
“I address anxiety with one of my sons by discussing his feelings and validating them. We also find tactics together to calm his mind, such as drawing, going for walks together or just having a really big hug. For us, this works. But it took three years, endless tears and countless discussions to get us where we are.”