Positive parenting overview

Positive parenting’ refers to a group of projects and services in which parents, caregivers or guardians receive direct and targeted education, training or support.

a) What is positive parenting?

The overall objective of 'positive parenting' is 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 is not considered positive parenting:

  • direct education or training of children
  • community-wide education where a parent may or may not receive education (i.e. a 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[1].

b) Which target audience should positive parenting focus on?

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

Positive parenting programs 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[1].


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 (AOD) harm is to increase the confidence, skills and knowledge of parents in the task of raising their children[2].

By strengthening parents’ skills, capacity and confidence in parenting through positive parenting programs, 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 harms and improve a range of social and health outcomes.

Positive parenting programs that assist to prevent AOD harm focus on supporting family-level ‘protective factors’ that can protect against the risk of AOD harm[3]

. A selection of family-level risk and protective factors for AOD harm are provided in the table below.


Family-level risk and protective factors for AOD harm[4]

Risk factors Protective factors
Family history of problem AOD use A sense of belonging or connectedness to family
Family conflict Proactive family problem solving
Harsh or inconsistent parenting A caring relationship even with one parent
Marital conflict

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[5].

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 programs are effective at improving parenting practices and child development, which can prevent against AOD harm and improve a range of other health and social outcomes.

Watch the Positive Parenting webinar

[1] Parenting Research Centre 2012, Evidence review: an analysis of the evidence for parenting programs in Australia, Available at: parentingrc.org.au/images/Resources/Evidence-review-Analysis-of-evidence-parenting-programs/Main_Report_EvidenceReviewParentingPrograms_ammended270717.pdf

[2] Triple P Stay positive in action triplep.net/glo-en/the-triple-p-system-at-work/population-approach/what-is-stay-positive/

[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse 2016, Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood, Available at: drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-substance-abuse-prevention-early-childhood/chapter-2-risk-protective-factors

[4] Youth, Drugs and Alcohol Advice, Risk and Protective Factors, yodaa.org.au/youngpeople

[5] Australian Early Development Census 2015, The importance of early childhood development, Available at: aedc.gov.au/parents/the-importance-of-early-childhood-development

Please get in touch to find out more about the program
Please get in touch to find out more about the program