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Littlies Lobby research highlights parents' views

Media statement

27 July 2005

Littlies Lobby research highlights parents' views

In the first of an annual series of research commissioned by the Littlies Lobby1 and seeking the views of parents with small children, parents have identified a range of policy measures that would assist families.

Children's Commissioner, Cindy Kiro said, "Our research highlights some of the measures governments could take in support of families, as well as providing valuable insights into parents' experiences and opinions. The findings will enable us to gauge the issues of concern to parents and, over time, identify any changes in parents' views about the social and political issues impacting the parenting environment.

"The most important issues identified by parents are 'spending quality time with their children', followed by 'providing housing and food.' For many parents, the challenge of juggling paid work with parenting takes its toll on the quality of time spent with children and meeting the basic cost of living is difficult for many, whether or not they are working," she said.

Asked about the policy measures likely to be of assistance to families, parents said most helpful are continuing free health services for under six-year-olds; and most helpful would be removing GST from basic food items; extending paid parental leave from 13 weeks to a year; and a universal tax credit system for families.

"The research also highlighted the challenges associated with accessing day-care; the sources of advice and help that parents access most regularly; and opinions on the best methods for guiding children to behave well. These are all issues that directly impact the day-to-day environment for families and the wellbeing of children.

"A significant number of those accessing paid day-care said they experienced problems getting back-up for last minute emergencies, finding day-care for a mildly sick child, and finding affordable, quality day care was also a challenge.

"Perhaps the most exciting and interesting result from the research highlights the awareness among parents that the most effective ways to guide children to behave well are positive parenting strategies," said Cindy Kiro.


1 Littlies Lobby is a joint imitative of Plunket and the Children's Commissioner. The project is designed to increase awareness of the importance of the early years of a child's life and promote the well being of children and their families.

Summary of key research findings:

What do parents think?

In a prompted question the most important issues for parents and carers of children under five years were spending quality time with their children (43 percent first mention) and providing housing and food (39 percent first mention).

Looking at what would help parents and carers of children under five years the most, respondents declared that the most helpful measures would be:

* Continuing free health services for under six year olds

* Removing GST from basic food items

* Extending paid parental leave from 13 weeks to a year, and

* Having a universal tax credit system.

Other helpful measures identified by parents were:

* Lower cost day care

* Support and recognition for a parent to stay at home with children

* Advice for new mothers

* Parenting courses and information, and

* Financial support to provide learning experiences for children.

48 percent of the parents we researched use paid day-care services. Of these:

* 59 percent said they had 'difficulty' in getting back-up for last minute emergencies

* 49 percent said they had problems finding day-care for a mildly sick child

* 45 percent said finding affordable, quality day care was a challenge

When asked where and how often they get advice and help for the care of their children:

* 54 percent of parents go to friends 'a lot' or 'quite often'

* 50 percent of parents go to their own parents 'a lot' or 'quite often'

* 45 percent go to parents' magazines 'a lot' or 'quite often'

Other sources of advice identified by parents were wider family members, the doctor, early childhood educators, Plunket, PlunketLine, church, and government agencies.

When asked what is the most effective way to guide children to behave well:

* 96 percent said praising and encouraging good behaviour is the most effective

* 94 percent leading by example

* 76 percent giving them rewards for tasks well done

* 75 percent talking to them about what is right and wrong

* 63 percent taking time out

71 percent of parents told us that "smacking when they do things wrong" was the least effective way to guide children to behave well.

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