Parenting

An approach social workers can use with parents to help support healthy child development by assisting parents to navigate child development issues using various strategies, e.g. positive parenting and the navigating waters analogy


This page has three sections:

  1. Background Material that provides the context for the topic

  2. A suggested Practice Approach

  3. A list of Supporting Material / References

Feedback welcome!


Background Material

COVID-19 Parenting (UNICEF, 2020)

A number of international organisations (e.g. WHO, UNICEF) produced parenting tips for use in Covid-19, but they can be used out of that context. They include:

  1. One-on-time: set aside time to spend with each child, ask your child what they would like to do, switch off the TV and phone, listen to them, look at them.

  2. Keeping it positive: say the behaviour you want to see, praise your child when they are behaving well, ensure your child can actually do what you are asking, help your teen stay connected through social media and other safe distancing ways.

  3. Structure up: create a flexible but consistent daily routine.

  4. Bad behaviour: keep calm, take a pause, redirect, use consequences.

  5. Talk about COVID-19: be open and listen, be honest, be supportive, it’s OK not to know the answers, end on a good note.

  6. Learning through play: movement games, telling stories, use household objects as props for games, memory game, singing.

  7. Keep children safe online: set up parental controls, spend time with your child and teen online, keep open communication.

  8. Family harmony at home: use positive language, share the load, be an empathetic active listener.

  9. When we get angry: prevent it from starting by thinking about what makes us angry and stopping it at the source; take a break, take care of yourself.

  10. Family budgeting in times of stress: involve children and teens in making a family budget (needs and wants).

Siegel, D. H. (2016). Parenting skills training: When does it fit? Social Work Today, 16(5), 22. Retrieved from https://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/092116p22.shtml


Many parents receive parenting skills training. It does not always work and reviews of the literature on the effectiveness of parenting skills training produces mixed pictures regarding effectiveness. The question to ask is: "What kind of parenting skills training works, with what kinds of parents, with what kinds of children, and under what conditions?" As well, "Is parenting skills training called for in this particular case?"


The uncertain picture about the effectiveness of different parent training programs is only one of many reasons to think critically about routinely requiring parent training for parents who abuse, neglect or are struggling with their children.


Consider the possibility that some parents who struggle actually have in their behavioural repertoires the parenting skills they need but may simply not have access to those skills when hobbled by fatigue, overwhelming financial worries, or stressors that trigger trauma reactions. When triggered, a traumatized parent may unconsciously dissociate, freeze, flee, or self-medicate with substance use—in short, be unable to access her or his parenting skills.

A parent who endured trauma as a child may be triggered by his or her own child's behaviour or by the normal stressors that accompany parenting any child. What that parent needs is not training in how to create daily routines at home, use active listening, set limits, be consistent, or use rewards, time out, or logical consequences. Rather, that parent needs help acquiring distress tolerance, emotional self-regulation, grounding, self-compassion, and mindfulness skills so he or she can self-soothe and bring the prefrontal cortex back in line in stressful moments. Similarly, standard parenting skills training might not fit a child who is neuroatypical, unable to process verbal instructions, or dealing with trauma, innate impulsivity, anxiety, depression, and a host of other conditions.


When determining whether and what parenting skills training package to use with a client, the most relevant question social workers should ask themselves is, "What does this particular client need? What, if any, specific evidence-based parenting skills training package is the right fit for this person?"


It's important to remember that just because an intervention worked for most clients that doesn't mean it will work for another client. One size does not fit all. Clients often get interventions that are deemed evidence-based or readily available or that workers prefer, rather than interventions that are best fits for the particular client at hand.

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NSPCC. (2020). Need to know guides: Positive parenting. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/media/1195/positive-parenting.pdf

Understanding a child’s needs will help parents better understand the child.

  • Babies behave as they do to get their needs met. Parents who are stressed may feel their baby is being naughty. This is not possible.

  • All toddlers test limits and have tantrums—they are unable to control their emotions. Naughty behaviour in toddlers is a sign of growing up.

  • School age children are constantly learning and exploring their world. They may have lots of questions as they start to form their own views on issues. As they move towards being more independent they may seem to push boundaries and become more challenging, a necessary part of growing up.

  • As children continue to develop their own identities in their teenage years, they might become more challenging – sometimes seeming “moody” or withdrawn or not as talkative and open as their parents would like. They might be more inclined to disagree with their parents or choose different views. Friends (and celebrities) will become a bigger influence and children may not always do what parents would like.

How to set boundaries All children need love, guidance and to have rules and boundaries. Rules and boundaries help families to understand how to behave towards each other, and what’s OK and not OK. But the best way to go about this will vary based on your child’s age and stage of development. All children are different and develop and reach milestones at different rates.

  • Introduce boundaries from an early age.

  • Keep guidance simple and consistent.

  • If your child is behaving in a way you don’t want them to, clearly explain what you want them to do instead.

  • Try to avoid using orders or ultimatums.

  • Be available and make time so your child will come to you when they feel something is wrong or they are upset.

  • Keep talking and listening to your child even if at times it feels like a challenge. Start listening from a very early age and set a pattern for life.

  • Review family rules as your child gets older and recognise the different needs of children living at home. For example, you shouldn’t expect the same from your 12-year-old as you would from your four-year-old.

  • Get support from friends and try any good ideas they have found helpful.

  • If you are struggling and things are getting out of hand, get advice from your GP, a health visitor, or your child’s teacher

For school age and teenagers

  • Be willing and give your child chances to show they can be trusted.

  • Avoid criticism wherever possible. If your child has done something wrong, explain that it is the action and not them that you’re unhappy with.

  • Try to avoid getting trapped in petty arguments, there are rarely any winners!

  • Consider ways to negotiate or offer choices as your child gets older.

Rewards and discipline Children can respond in different ways to certain rewards and disciplines. Only the parent will know what works for a child. Some examples include:

  • Praise children, even for the little things they do.

  • Reward positive behaviour and consider asking what a good reward would be.

  • Avoid making rash decisions when you’re angry.

  • Talk to your child about the rewards and consequences of their behaviour and do it before rather than after.

  • Take time to really listen to what your children are saying and explain to them what you are feeling.

  • Be a role model and don’t do things that you wouldn’t want your children to do.

Keeping your cool Manage stress and anger by:

  • Accepting support (family, friends, other avenues)

  • Making time for yourself

  • Getting help (seek advice, e.g. GP)

  • Being as prepared as possible (think ahead and prepare for potential problems)

  • Be proud of what you achieve – don’t overlook success

Build positive relationships Spend time with your child and learn together. This can help increase your child’s confidence, strengthen your bond and also help you to better understand their needs.

  • Show your child you’re interested in what they like. Think of enjoyable activities you can do together.

  • Think of times when you have seen a positive change in your child’s behaviour and anything you could learn from that experience.

  • Ask your child for their views and be willing to listen. This can help you to see things from their view.

  • Don’t give up or be too hard on yourself if things don’t immediately change. Focus on small steps and achievable goals.

  • Be prepared to compromise and admit you’re wrong.

Sanson, A. (2020). How to support children’s wellbeing in the face of climate change. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/how-to-support-childrens-wellbeing-in-the-face-of-climate-change/

Surveys show that most children know about climate change and are worried about its impact on their future. They can demonstrate:

  • fear and anxiety over what the future will bring

  • distress, grief, and a sense of loss over loved places and animals that are being lost

  • anger and frustration at the adult generation, especially decision-makers, for causing the issue but doing so little to address it

  • helplessness – feeling there is nothing they can do themselves to stop climate change

  • despair and hopelessness – believing that decision-makers will not take the urgent action that is needed.

It is important to recognise that while they are rational responses and can motivate action, for some children these feelings can be debilitating, leading to reactions like nightmares, numbness, and despair.


Four broad strategies can be adopted to help children manage their feelings around climate change and cope effectively:

1. Listen and respond to their feelings and concerns

  • create times and places for children to share their feelings safely

  • recognise their feelings as valid (e.g. ‘Yes, I can understand that you feel scared, it’s a big problem.’)

  • avoid false reassurances but give messages of realistic hope (see below).

2. Find out what they know and build their understanding

  • respond to children’s questions honestly (while still taking their age into account)

  • correct misunderstandings – some children have exaggerated fears

  • help them to learn basic climate science, emphasising solutions

3. Build ‘realistic hope’

‘Realistic hope’ means acknowledging that humanity is facing a huge and urgent problem, but that it is still possible to prevent climate change from worsening. Adults can:

  • explain that people already know how to stop carbon emissions and draw down the excess carbon already in the atmosphere

  • show children how lots of good people are working on the problem – from scientists and engineers to farmers, communities, and activists

  • give them examples of the big problems we have solved before, such as abolishing slavery and apartheid, winning women the right to vote, and saving the Franklin River

  • build their sense of efficacy and control by showing them how many people, working together, solved these big problems.

4. Build their capacity to take action

  • treat children not just as victims of climate change, but also as problem-solvers with a right to be involved

  • view children not only as consumers, but also as citizens

  • model environmentally responsible behaviour and expect children to do the same

  • build children’s active citizenship skills by, for example, helping them to make posters, write letters, visit their MPs, join climate action groups, and take action themselves if they wish to.

See the full article for a list of resources from the Australian Psychological Society, Sanson et. al., and New Zealand’s climate change curriculum resource material.


Evans-Whipp, T. (2021). Promoting adequate sleep in young people. CFCA News, June 10, 2021. Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/2021/06/10/promoting-adequate-sleep-young-people


The Australian Department of Health recommends between 9 and 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep for young people aged 12–13 years and between 8 and 10 hours of sleep for those aged 14–17 years. Consistent bed and wake-up times are also recommended. Research shows that many young people, as they age, don’t get the recommended amount of sleep; they go to bed later but rise at a similar time.


Factors that support sleep include physical activity during the day, regular bed and wake times across the week, a relaxing sleep routine before bedtime (e.g. low lighting, having a bath, mindfulness techniques), and a quiet, dark bedroom at a comfortable temperature.


Factors that reduce sleep include biological changes and social changes: body clocks can change so they stay up and get up later, schoolwork may increase, more control of bedtimes may be granted, part-time work and additional time socialising or pursuing interests. Difficulties with mental health can affect sleep and insufficient sleep can increase the risk of mental health challenges and struggles. Screen use and social media activity at night may interfere with sleep time because of the stimulating impact of both content and blue light from screens.


What can parents do? While being aware of their child’s shifting biological clock and their increasing need for autonomy, parents and caregivers can discuss the importance of reasonable and regular bedtimes and limits on screen use before bed. If their child has, or is suspected of having, sleep disturbances, parents should seek the assistance of professionals to promptly address the risks of potential mental health and other issues.


Supporting Children’s Resilience (Emerging Minds. (n.d.). Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience – parent fact sheet. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/adverse-childhood-experiences-aces-and-resilience-parent-fact-sheet/)


Children can experience trauma and adversity from a range of difficult life experiences (e.g. abuse, neglect, parental separation and mental illness). If these experiences are overwhelming for the child, they can lead to a traumatic response. In many cases children will receive support and care from their family and community, and will be able to work through these experiences. However, these experiences often impact the whole family, and caring relationships within the family can also be affected.


Parents can support their child’s resilience by being:

  • Someone they can lean on

o Be there for them, support them through difficulties and be a safe place for them to express their feelings

o Share more frequent meals together as a family to build strong healthy relationships

o Support them to practise healthy habits and routines. Predictable patterns help children feel safe and secure.

  • Someone who is interested in them

o Make time for play every day. Even five minutes can make a huge difference for a child

o Ask about their favourite school subjects or activities. Take the time to listen to their answers or get them to teach you something they’ve learned.

o Learn positive coping strategies like naming feelings or slow breathing and practise them together.

  • Someone who believes in them

o Praise your child for things uou notice about them. This helps build their self-esteem.

o Nurture their independence. Encourage them to explore, have adventures and try new things.

o Share your own childhood dreams and ask your child about theirs. Let them know you think they can achieve their ambitions.


Childhood physical conditions and mental health

Emerging Minds and the Parenting Resource Centre have released a series of fact sheets about the most prevalent chronic conditions that affect children in Australia. These fact sheets provide details on the health, development and mental health implications of each condition, as well as information on supports available for children and families.

The list of fact sheets:

These are available at https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/format/fact-sheet/

Practice Approach


In 2018 McDonald outlined a step-by-step approach that is similar to the Navigating Waters approach presented in detail below.

The following steps incorporate much of the above. They are based on the “Navigating Waters” approach (Frameworks, 2019).

1. Before beginning, think about adopting the following approach (Frameworks, 2019):

Firstly, don’t normalise parenting challenges (e.g. refrain from statements such as 'all parents struggle at times', 'being a parent is the hardest job in the world'). This approach suggests challenges are inevitable and cannot be addressed or solved. It does not prime parents to be more receptive about parenting but may encourage them to double-down on their misconceptions about parenting. It should be abandoned.


Secondly, talk about parenting in the context of what is good for children’s healthy development, i.e. focus on children and their needs—'child development’—rather than ‘effective parenting’. In practice this can be done as follows:

  • Articulate the 'big idea' - child development and how parents can support it (step 3 below).

  • Explain how children develop (step 4 below).

  • Explain parenting approaches that support healthy child development (step 5 below).

In summary, tell a positive, consistent story about supporting child development. Avoid:

  • Rebutting or disproving ingrained ways of thinking about parenting

  • Talking about how all parents struggle and that parenting is 'hard work'

  • Talking about improving parenting or pointing to 'effective' or 'good' parenting

  • Using statistics that show poor outcomes for children to argue for parenting support

  • Starting communications with the idea of parenting skills

  • Talking about evidence-based parenting or the 'science' of parenting, e.g. it may be appropriate to raise the importance of parental self-care and self-compassion (Kienhuis & Avdagic, 2021: see Supporting Material for an outline of this resource).

2. Bio-psycho-social-assessment (BPSS)

As you undertake a BPSS assessment, keep in mind the challenges parents face (Nair, 2012). As you proceed through the BPSS assessment, note the ones that are relevant to the situation parents are facing. Challenges parents face include:

  • Fast pace of society

  • Increasing demands on parents

  • Feeling ill-equipped to face challenges

  • The need for information on how to improve relationships with children

  • Perceiving help-seeking behaviour as a sign of incompetence

  • The financial burden due to technology, internet use and direct marketing of products to children

  • Work-life balance impacting on time that can be spent with children

3. Explain how circumstances affect parents and families using the 'navigating waters' metaphor and relate the metaphor to the specific challenges unearthed in the BPSS.


Navigating Waters

“To develop healthily, children need life to be on an even keel. But for families, especially those experiencing (insert the issues facing these particular parents sourced from the BPSS), raising children can be like sailing in rough waters. Just as we provide lighthouses and safe harbours, parents can be helped with support like counselling, quality childcare and financial support.”


Stress that parenting can be impacted by the situation in which parents find themselves: personal factors, but also external factors (e.g. the ones outlined in the BPSS). Point out that parenting is a journey that requires skill and support, where one may encounter smooth or rough seas. Knowledge about what healthy child development looks like, and how parents can support this development, can protect parents from these challenges.


In points 4 and 5 below, target the stage of development the parent is concerned about. Use the summary table at the end of point 5 as a guide. Stage Development summaries (Peterson, 2010) are available on request.


4. Explain what we know about children, and what they should acquire to develop into healthy adults

Discuss with parents the physical skills, emotional, cognitive, and social skills, and personality development that suggest a child is developing in a healthy manner. Add to the parent’s suggestions as necessary.


After identifying the stage characteristics, explain that the waters parents have to navigate will become smoother if this information is kept in mind.


5. Explain some of the parenting approaches appropriate for the relevant stage of child development, both in general terms and in terms specific for that stage of development.

Using the issues around parenting raised in the BPSS, discuss with the parent the impact each of these is having on healthy child development. A solution-focused approach building the parent’s strengths may provide a way to draw out appropriate parenting approaches for the parent to use to aid in development. For example, ask the parent to consider the times when the issue that concerns the parent is not there, how they know and tease out why it is absent. This may lead into a discussion of how a certain parenting approach or skill can assist the child to develop appropriately.


The tables that follow rely on these sources: Kids Health, 2019; McLean, 2020 – Emerging Minds Factsheets ; NSPCC, 2020; Peterson, 2010; Robinson & Miller, 2012; Triple P, (2020); UNICEF, 2020; Wade et al., 2019.

6. Know where to access and then direct parent to relevant resources

The websites below are designed to support parents when raising children by outlining key approaches to parenting that encourage healthy child development. However, Siegel (2016) offers a cautionary word.


Siegel suggests that parenting skills training may not always be the best course of action for parents who appear to fail their children. Rather than choosing a parenting skills training package to use with a parent, Siegel suggests the most relevant question social workers should ask themselves is, "What does this particular client need? What, if any, specific evidence-based parenting skills training package is the right fit for this person?Will an intervention that worked for one client necessarily work for another?” Siegel warns that one size does not fit all. Clients often get interventions that are deemed evidence-based or readily available or that workers prefer, rather than interventions that are best fits for the particular client at hand. Siegel uses a case study of Suzanne, an immigrant with six children whom she loves, and who were conceived by rape. While she was high on heroin her 2-year-old fell while running and was permanently blinded in one eye. After outlining Suzanne’s circumstances Siegel suggests employment, trauma-informed care and substance use treatment would enhance Suzanne’s parenting, not a parenting skills course.


Australian Parenting Website: www.raisingchildren.net.au


Beyond Blue. (2020). Healthy families. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/young-people Click on the ‘healthy families’ link and then choose the age of development to explore.


NSPCC Learning: Parents leaflets cover a number of topic. Available from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/leaflets/parent-leaflets


Triple P – Positive Parenting Program: https://www.triplep-parenting.net.au/au-uken/get-started/parenting-teens-during-covid-19/and https://www.triplep-parenting.net.au/au-uken/get-started/5-steps-to-positive-parenting/


Emerging Minds Building Blocks for Social and Emotional Wellbeing e-learning course https://learning.emergingminds.com.au/course/building-blocks-for-childrens-social-and-emotional-wellbeing


Emerging Minds Engaging with Parents e-learning course https://learning.emergingminds.com.au/course/engaging-with-parents-an-introduction


Why is it difficult for parents to talk to practitioners about their children’s mental health? practice paper https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/why-is-it-difficult-for-parents-to-talk-to-practitioners-about-their-childrens-mental-health/


Birth Injury Justice Centre. (2021). Treatment for birth injuries and Birth injury recreational activities. Retrieved from https://www.childbirthinjuries.com/birth-injury/treatment/ and https://www.childbirthinjuries.com/resources/recreation/


Mesothelioma Hope. (2021). Talking to Children About Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.mesotheliomahope.com/resources/children/


Asbestos.com. (2021). Parenting with Mesothelioma: Talking to my children about my diagnosis. Retrieved from https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2021/06/30/parenting-mesothelioma-sharing-diagnosis/


Supporting Material/References

(available on request)


1-2-3-Magic! (n.d.). Retrieved from https://keychangesmusictherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/1-2-3-magic-How-To.pdf


AIFS. (2014). Parenting teens and tweens: Resources for policy and practice. Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/sites/default/files/publication-documents/parenting-teens.pdf


Beyond Blue. (2020). Healthy families. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/young-people


Big Life Journal. (2019). How to empower children when they struggle. Retrieved from https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/empower-children-struggle?_pos=1&_sid=002017ba2&_ss=r


Emerging Minds. (2019). Communicating with your primary school-age child during ‘tough times’. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/communicating-with-your-primary-school-age-child-during-adversity-or-tough-times/


Emerging Minds. (2018). Communicating with your teenager during ‘tough times’. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/communicating-with-your-teenager-during-adversity-or-tough-times/


Emerging Minds.(2021). How to help parents find the right parenting support for them. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/how-to-help-parents-find-the-right-parenting-support-for-them/

Emerging Minds. (n.d.). Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience – parent fact sheet. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/adverse-childhood-experiences-aces-and-resilience-parent-fact-sheet/


Evans-Whipp, T. (2021). Promoting adequate sleep in young people. CFCA News, June 10, 2021. Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/2021/06/10/promoting-adequate-sleep-young-people


Evans-Whipp, T., Swami, N., & Prattley, J. (2021). Adolescents combining school and part-time employment (Growing Up in Australia Snapshot Series – Issue 6). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.https://growingupinaustralia.gov.au/research-findings/snapshots


Frameworks. (2019). Navigating waters: Talking about parenting. Retrieved from https://www.frameworksinstitute.org/toolkit/navigating-waters-talking-about-parenting/#summary-panel


Kids Health. (2019). Nine steps to more effective parenting. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/nine-steps.html


Kienhuis, M., & Avdagic, E., (2021). Parental self-care and self-compassion. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/parental-self-care-and-self-compassion/

Parental self-compassion and self-care have a strong influence on child development. Parental self-care includes doing things like eating well and staying active. It also includes taking time to relax and recharge. Examples might include taking a break outdoors, chatting with a supportive friend, or watching a movie. Another important part of parental self-care is self-compassion. Those who are self-compassionate show self-kindness, understand that making mistakes is part of being human, and are less likely to be self-critical.


Parents who are kind to themselves and take time to relax and recharge have better health and wellbeing, are more confident in their parenting, and have more positive interactions with their children. This is important, as we know parent wellbeing, parent confidence and positive parent-child interactions are associated with better outcomes for children with and without mental health challenges. Professionals need to support parents to be less critical of their parenting and to regularly practise self-care.


The Parenting Today in Victoria study (https://www.parentingrc.org.au/publications/parenting-today-in-victoria/) showed

  • Only about half the parents surveyed reported that they regularly practised self-care; almost a quarter said they did not practise self-care; one-third felt they were hard on themselves as parents

  • Parents high on self-care had better physical and mental health and reduced fatigue

  • Parental self-care is associated with parenting confidence and enjoyment of parenting, something that leads to positive mental health outcomes for children

Practitioners can

  • Encourage parents to seek support from friends and family so that they can find time to look after themselves

  • Encourage parents to look after themselves without making parents feel stressed and guilty. Explore what is getting in the way of self-care

  • Normalise parenting concerns and challenge parent self-criticism (“Would I judge a friend this way?”)

  • Model and encourage self-kindness—making time to do something for her or himself

The Raising Children website provides credible information on all aspects of parenting – including information on parental self-care and self-compassion that professionals can share with parents or refer parents to if they’d like to do their own information gathering.

https://raisingchildren.net.au/for-professionals/mental-health-resources/parent-mental-health-and-wellbeing/promoting-parent-mental-health


If it is challenging for a parent to practise self-care or reduce self-criticism, professional support is available. Family GPs are a good starting point, as they can refer to suitable mental health professionals such as psychologists or local counsellors.


McLean, S. (2017). Child development milestones: A guide for foster parents. Adelaide: University of South Australia. Retrieved from https://www.fosteringdifference.com.au/images/Resources/ForFosterParents/Child-Development-01_Child-Development-Milstones-SMcl-edit.pdf


McLean, S. (2020). Understanding child development: Ages 0-3 years. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/understanding-child-development-ages-0-3-years/


McLean, S. (2020). Understanding child development: Ages 3-5 years. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/understanding-child-development-ages-3-5-years/

McLean, S. (2020). Understanding child development: Ages 5-8 years. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/understanding-child-development-ages-5-8-years/

McLean, S. (2020). Understanding child development: Ages 9-12 years. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/understanding-child-development-ages-9-12-years/


Michaux, A. (2019). Talking about parenting: Why a radical communications shift is needed to drive better outcomes for children. CFCA News, 11 September. Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/2019/04/02/talking-about-parenting-why-radical-communications-shift-needed-drive-better-outcomes


Nair, L. (2012). Safe and supportive families and communities for children: A synopsis and critique of Australian research. CFCA paper 1. Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/safe-and-supportive-families-and-communities-children-synopsis-and-critiq


NSPCC Learning. (2020). Parent’s leaflets. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/leaflets/parent-leaflets


NSPCC. (2020). Need to know guides: Positive parenting. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/media/1195/positive-parenting.pdf


Peterson, Candida C. (2010). Looking forward through the lifespan: Developmental psychology (5th ed.). University of Queensland: Pearson Australia.


Robinson, E., & Miller, R. (2012). Adolescents and their families. Melbourne: Victorian Government Department of Human Services.


Sanders, M. R., & Cobham, V. E. (2020). Top parenting tips for parents and carers during COVID-19. Retrieved from https://pfsc.psychology.uq.edu.au/files/2947/Top%20Tips%20for%20Parents%20and%20Carers%20during%20COVID-19.pdf


Sanson, A. (2020). How to support children’s wellbeing in the face of climate change. Emerging Minds. Retrieved from https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/how-to-support-childrens-wellbeing-in-the-face-of-climate-change/


Siegel, D. H. (2016). Parenting skills training: When does it fit? Social Work Today, 16(5), 22. Retrieved from https://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/092116p22.shtml


Stage Characteristics. My summary of attributes, characteristics, associated facts for various ages/stages.


Stage Development Summaries sourced from the Peterson (2010) reference immediately above. A 6th edition (2014) of this book exists.


Triple P – Positive Parenting Program: https://www.triplep-parenting.net.au/au-uken/get-started/parenting-teens-during-covid-19/ and https://www.triplep-parenting.net.au/au-uken/get-started/5-steps-to-positive-parenting/


UNICEF. (2020). Covid-19 Parenting. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/covid-19-parenting-tips


Wade, C., Seward, A., Almendingen, A., & Robinson, E. (2019). Parenting pre-teens: A pivotal time for children and parents. Child Family Community Australia (CFCA). Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/2019/10/21/parenting-pre-teens-pivotal-time-children-and-parents


Willoughby, M. (2022). Effective behaviour management strategies for children aged 0-10 years. Australian Institute of Family Studies: Short article, July 2022. https://aifs.gov.au/resources/short-articles/effective-behaviour-management-strategies-children-aged-0-10-years

This short article (with references to key points) outlines the evidence on effective behaviour management strategies for children aged 0–10 years, and how practitioners can support families to use these strategies.


After discussing how physical punishment (or threat of such punishment) can be harmful to children, the article provides a summary of key components of effective behaviour management strategies for children aged 0 to 1- years. The author suggests parents will need to try different combinations of strategies to work out what best suits their child in various circumstances. The key components are:

  • Developing a warm and loving relationship with the child and not disciplining with anger.

  • ·Being consistent in behaviour management strategies—where possible, react to undesirable behaviour the same way every time.

  • Set simple and easy to understand rules on how children should behave and treat others.

  • Praise and give children rewards when they behave well.

  • Use time-out, i.e. place a child in a quiet, safe place without any toys, games or positive attention from parents for a very short time. Note that time-out should

  • Immediately follow the behaviour

  • Be used consistently

  • Delivered calmly and warmly

  • Be proportional to the child’s age and behaviour

  • Only be used for behaviour the child can control (not for mistakes)

  • Be paired with strategies to teach alternative desired behaviour

  • Use logical consequences, when possible, e.g. remove a toy when used inappropriately

  • Remember the child is separate from their behaviour; behaviour needs to be managed, not the child.

Practitioners working with families can:

  • Ask parents if they need support

  • Be curious about the behaviour management strategies used

  • Steer parents away from using physical punishment to using the above strategies

  • Share resources that provide practical assistance (listed in the ‘further reading’ section of the article)

  • Refer parents who need more support to evidence-based parenting programs (e.g. programs in the AIFS guidebook at https://apps.aifs.gov.au/cfca/guidebook/)

  • Encourage service providers to conduct evidence-based parenting programs

The article concludes with resources that provide practical advice for family around behaviour management strategies for different age groups, building positive relationships, creating family rules, using time-out, working with young people and families from CALD backgrounds as well as Indigenous children and families. Resources to use when supporting children with neurodiversity, autism and/or a disability round out the article. Twelve references are included.