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Parenting programme improves children’s behaviour

Media release

28 August 2013

Parenting programme improves children’s behaviour and parenting skills

The Ministry of Education says an evaluation of its Incredible Years parenting programme shows it does improve children’s behaviour and parenting practices.

The programme is for parents of children aged 3-8 years whose behaviour causes significant disruption at home and/or school.

Ministry of Education Special Education Group Manager, Brian Coffey, says the evaluation report published by the Ministry of Social Development shows the programme, which originates from the United States, has been successfully implemented in New Zealand.

Mr Coffey says the parenting programme was selected for the Positive Behaviour for Learning Action Plan in 2009 based on strong international evidence and early success being achieved by families who participated in pilot programmes.

“By addressing challenging behaviour early, we can have a long-term positive impact on learning and achievement, employment, health and well-being.

“If children know what’s expected of them at home, feel connected and praised, they’re more likely to behave positively, learn in class and achieve in the future.”

Mr Coffey says the evaluation shows clear evidence of positive behaviour change in children and parents in the majority of participants studied.

“In most cases the improved behaviour was sustained until the 6 month follow up. The benefits for Māori and non-Māori parents were broadly similar.”

Mr Coffey says 12,000 parents will be able to participate in the programme over the next four years.

Parents can be referred from early childhood centres, schools, Special Education, CYFS, Plunket, health and community organisations, or they can self-refer.

The programme is made up of 14 two-hour sessions. Two trained leaders take groups of up to 16 parents. The sessions focus on building positive relationships with children and developing strategies to manage problem behaviours. There is also follow up and support between sessions with group participants.

The programme is provided by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and by contracted Non Government Organisations (NGOs).

Professor Richie Poulton, Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and
Development Research Unit and a member of the evaluation’s advisory group, said the study was a successful collaboration between the Ministries of Education, Health and Social Development and academics who advised and supported the evaluation.

“This is a poster-child of how to evaluate government-funded programmes.”

Parents wanting to attend an Incredible Years programme should contact their local Ministry of Education office.


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