What image comes to mind when you hear the term ‘parenting programmes’?
In Japan, and in many countries, ‘parenting programmes’ used to carry the idea of only being for ‘families with problems’. And there are other misconceptions about parenting programmes too, such as:
- You get told to do something totally different to what you’re already doing.
- You get told things you already know, so there’s no point.
(It’s funny, though, because when you think about it, how could both of those things be true?)
Many people even wonder why there’s any need for parenting education when you can just stumble along and 'learn on the job'. People think “Oh well, I’ll just get better as I go along”.
So why does Triple P call itself a parenting programme ‘For Every Parent’? What does that mean? Is parenting something we have to learn? Well, you don’t HAVE to. But it’s very helpful for both children and parents to be equipped with knowledge and skills of effective parenting, as early as possible (even before they become parents, if they want to). Of course you might accidentally figure out some of these things, and you might be blessed with a very easy-going child, a supportive partner, a network of helpful family and friends, and no problems or stress in your life.
In the real world, though, most of us can use all the help we can get, especially if the information is proven to be effective for millions of families worldwide.
MAKING A BIG JOB A LITTLE BIT EASIER
Raising children is an important task. As a parent you take on the responsibility of helping your child reach their potential and become well-adjusted to the world they live in. There are many skills children need to learn as they grow up to reach their potential and be a well-adjusted individual such as:
- Getting on with others
- Being independent (doing things by themselves)
- Time management (e.g., when to stop what you are doing to move onto another task)
- Social rules
- Some important life values (e.g., doing your best)
- The value of money/saving
- Other values that are important to you.
Some of these things are easier to teach than others, and every child is different. Some families find parenting more challenging than others, but the reality is that every parent gets a fair share of challenging behaviour from children and pressure to manage it. No parents are free from challenges.
DEALING WITH THE MYTHS
But still, nobody wants somebody to come along and tell them exactly how to raise their child. Fortunately, that’s not what Triple P is all about. It’s simply about showing you many practical strategies which you can use from the moment you learn them. Learning many strategies might sound overwhelming. Some people might think “Do I have to use all these?” Of course not. I haven’t met any parent who uses all the strategies they learned. The important thing is, through the seminars or sessions, you would find a few strategies that you think “I could use this”, in addition to what’s already working for your family, and you try them out at home.
Then later, you can talk with your Triple P provider about how you can use these strategies to suit your family. I have met many parents who tell me that by trying out a few Triple P strategies, their view on themselves has changed from “Can I do it?” to “I can!” in terms of making a change in their family life.
ISN’T IT JUST COMMON SENSE?
The other thing we hear a lot from parents who’ve never been to Triple P is “Well, I’ve heard similar stuff elsewhere, so I already know what’s helpful.”
You may have heard similar parenting advice from multiple sources, which is understandable as helpful parenting advice often comes from people with similar professional backgrounds. The difference is, do you know how to make it work in real life? Do you have tools to help you figure out what’s going wrong if something isn’t working? It’s a bit like watching a TV show about cooking or renovating your house, and then trying to open a restaurant or build a new kitchen.
What I encourage people to do is to put a few things into practice and see if it really works and makes positive changes to your family. Having knowledge and even ideas is good, but it’s even better knowing about some practical tips, tricks and strategies, and practising them with someone who can help guide you through the tricky bits.
How about the families with problems/difficulties? They are the ones who really need this help, right?
Yes, these families may need help from various services to move forward, and attending a parenting programme may be one of these services these families may benefit from. But where do you draw a line between who should get help and who shouldn’t? And how do we make sure that those who need services don’t think “Well, that’s for other people, not me.” Where evidence-base, effective parenting skills are concerned, everyone benefits from it. And when such advice is available for everyone, it’s much easier for the families with difficulties to feel okay to receive such help.
Where Triple P is made available for the whole community, the families with difficulties also attend these sessions, and the whole community benefits from its effects (e.g., in various places around the world – you can read more here and here.)
IT’S UP TO EACH PARENT
Some people just don’t want to do a parenting programme, and nothing will convince them.
But for most people, anything that makes life a little easier and more enjoyable, and helps kids to grow up to be their best, is definitely worth at least trying.