Parenting scheme helps to lower stress

More schools to adopt Triple P, which teaches ways to handle children better

Complimenting a child on good behaviour as well as agreeing on a gaming schedule are among the tips shared by a parenting programme launched two years ago.

The Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P) pilot has been deemed effective in helping parents handle their children better and lowering parenting stress, and yesterday it was announced that it will be extended to more schools.

Triple P, which was created in Australia, was introduced in 20 schools in Singapore in 2014. It was expanded to 50 schools last year, and 118 this year. By 2018, it will be offered in 175 schools.

In an evaluation study of 535 parents, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) found that the programme reduced behavioural problems in children by up to 33 per cent, and parents felt up to 18 per cent better equipped to deal with their children.

Mothers and fathers also reported that their stress levels fell by up to 38 per cent. So far, 5,500 parents have taken part in the pilot.

Triple P teaches parents techniques to promote their children's psychological, social and emotional competence. There are five levels of intervention, and parents fill in a questionnaire to determine the intensity of support they need.

SEPARATE KIDS FROM BEHAVIOUR

There are no bad kids but there are kids with bad behaviours.

TRIPLE P TRAINER EVELYN KHONG, a principal consultant at Fei Yue Community Services.

The MSF has launched levels two and three, which deal with kids with mild behavioural problems and those with mild to moderate problems respectively. The ministry also runs levels four and five if there are families who need more intense support, such as those with demands complicated by marital conflict or financial difficulties.

Triple P trainer Evelyn Khong, 57, a principal consultant at Fei Yue Community Services, said: "There are no bad kids but there are kids with bad behaviours. So separate the child from his behaviour and start to look at what can be done."

Simple tips include spending time with children outside of doing schoolwork to understand them.

Triple P is offered to parents with children in Primary 3, Primary 4, Secondary 1 or Secondary 2. Children at these stages are "going through different phases of their lives and we find that different challenges seem to appear", said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who attended a dialogue session yesterday with Triple P trainers.

"Talking to the trainers has reinforced my conviction that this is really quite compelling," the minister added. "When we have children, they don't come with an instruction booklet so we actually all learn by watching our parents, watching others and reading books. But parenting is also a skill that we need to learn."

Correction Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Triple P will be offered in 178 schools by 2018. This is incorrect. It should be 175 schools. We are sorry for the error.  

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Parenting scheme helps to lower stress'. Print Edition | Subscribe