Positive Parenting overview

Positive parenting activities refers to a group of programs[1] and services in which parents, caregivers or guardians receive direct and targeted education, training or support.

a. What is positive parenting?

The overall objective being to improve child outcomes; either by increasing the parent’s knowledge, skills or capacity as a caregiver, or by improving parent-child interactions, parent outcomes such as parent wellbeing, or family outcomes such as family relationships.

The following are not considered to be Positive Parenting activities:

  • direct education or training of children
  • community-wide education where a parent may or may not receive education (i.e. parent/s are not the target audience – instead the community is)
  • indirect education of parents via their children (e.g. a notice sent home with the child about the importance of reading)
  • tip sheets or information pamphlets handed-out to parents in isolation of other forms of interaction.[2]

b. Which target audience should Positive Parenting activities focus on?

Positive parenting activities aim to improve child outcomes with a focus on the early years of childhood. The activities are delivered to parents of children aged 0–5 years.

Positive parenting activities are beneficial for all parents, not just those experiencing problems. They are particularly beneficial for parents who are geographically or socially isolated, or who are experiencing conflict with their partner about parenting issues.

multicultural family

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation defines a parent as an adult who is performing the role of a primary caregiver to a child. This may be someone other than the child’s biological parent, and may include grandparents, step-parents, foster parents or other carers.[3]

c. How does positive parenting help to prevent alcohol and drug-related issues?

The single most important thing we can do to reduce children’s lifetime risk of alcohol and other drug use and protect children against alcohol and other drug-related harm is to increase the confidence, skills and knowledge of parents in the task of raising their children.[4]

By strengthening parents’ skills, capacity and confidence in parenting through positive parenting activities, we improve their chance of being able to provide caring and supportive environments and parent-child relationships that optimise early-childhood development. Improved parental skills assist in developing stronger relationships with their children, which can be an effective way to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harms and improve a range of social and health outcomes.

Positive parenting activities that assist to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harm focus on supporting family-level ‘protective factors’ that can protect against the risk of alcohol and other drug-related harm.[5] A selection of family-level risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug-related harm are provided in the following table Family-level risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug-related harm.[6]

Risk factors Protective factors
• Family history of alcohol and other drug use • A sense of belonging or connectedness to family
• Family conflict • Proactive family problem solving
• Harsh or inconsistent parenting • Family rituals/celebrations held and maintained
• Marital conflict • A caring relationship even with one parent

d. How effective is positive parenting?

A person’s life successes, health and emotional wellbeing have their roots in early childhood. We know that if these are properly supported in the early years, we can expect to see children thrive throughout their schooling and into their adult lives.[7]

Evidence shows that when the quality of parenting is improved, this has major influences on children’s development, wellbeing and the opportunities that arise over their lifetime.

Positive parenting activities are effective at improving parenting practices and child development, which can prevent against alcohol and other drug-related harm and improve a range of other health and social outcomes.

Watch the Positive Parenting webinar