"Ten years with positive parenting in Uppsala"


7 April 2020

‘Being a parent is not always easy – with Triple P, you can strengthen your parenting skills’. That’s what the advertisements say at the preschool for parental guidance, according to the Triple P – Positive Parenting Programme. Our research shows that parents pay attention to messages of this kind to a greater extent than pictures and messages of joy and ease, writes four researchers in the Department of Child Health and Parenting.

If you have some frustrations in your everyday life, you might be provoked by idyllic pictures of children and parents; in any case, you are not attracted to the programme they advertise. Some parents have described to us that they can feel as if they have failed just by looking at other people's "fairytale pictures" on Facebook, even though they know that what is posted reflects nothing but a small slice of someone's reality. No, ads that are supposed to get parents interested in parenting support programmes must feel genuine.

Anna Sarkadi, Raziye Salari, Anton Dahlberg & Helena Fabian

At the same time, you need to feel that there is a reasonable possibility to succeed in order to choose to sign up: hence, the wording that will trigger confidence in one's own ability (self-efficacy), you can strengthen your parenting skills! In addition, we discovered that mothers and fathers are motivated by partly different things to participate in parenting support programmes. While mothers were more concerned about behavioural problems in the child, fathers seemed to be more likely to want to participate if children had emotional problems. All of these aspects are reflected in the ads.

Comments from parents

  • Any parent can benefit from it. Although family life works well, there are always things to improve. / Father and mother of 2 children
  • My wife and I got a lot of practical advice in a friendly and open atmosphere. The advice was presented in a simple way. / Father of 2 children
  • I have learned a lot about how to handle my child's tantrums. / Mother of 2 children
  • With the help of Triple P, there are not as many conflicts at all, and if there are conflicts we can usually divert them and deal with it. We feel better, act calmer and the whole family has more fun together. / Father and mother to 1 child
  • My relationship with the children is better. Because the strategies are realistic, they can be implemented. / Mother of 4 children

The programme originally comes from Australia. During the first few years, we were busy showing that parents and children in Sweden have similar patterns as in other countries when it comes to the relationship between parenting strategies and children's behaviour problems. The programme also underwent a major cultural adaptation with reworked films and edited texts.

Today, the programme is part of Uppsala Municipality's regular service for parenting support. Triple P is offered through preschool – close to children’s and parent’s everyday – by preschool teachers who work with Triple P as part of their job. This means that parents have a shorter path to parenting support, that it will be easier to reach all families in the municipality and that hopefully, it will feel easier to seek support. There are many child healthcare nurses who, in connection with the annual checks, detect behavioural problems and can then recommend parents to participate in Triple P.

According to the national strategy, all parents of children aged 0 to 18 should be offered parenting support. It is a tricky balance between offering a programme broadly to make it easy to seek help, on the one hand, and the evidence that says that parenting support programmes are effective in primarily behavioural problems and not as a universal intervention, on the other. However, we have shown that parents who participated in Triple P through preschool were in need of help – that we reached the right parents and not just "the worried well" which is the case in many preventative efforts.

In Uppsala, our ten-year collaboration with the municipality has resulted in the evidence-based programme Triple P being offered to parents of young children who feel the need for it. We are proud of that because we know that being a parent is not always easy!

Anna Sarkadi,
Raziye Salari,
Anton Dahlberg,
Helena Fabian

Research team CHAP
Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences
Uppsala University

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Last modified: 2021-02-14