It’s hard to miss the alarming rise of children in distress- its everywhere- newspapers, TV, social media. The effect is often cyclical- distressed parents leading to distressed children in turn leading to a whole tumbling cycle of frustration and guilt. Why else would we hear of so many cases of children losing their hope on life, at an age when they should be actually bustling with positivity.
Positive Parenting is something every parent aspires to, but the parent’s own experiences and conditioning often hinder progress.
The Triple P, short for Positive Parenting Program ® is a parenting and family support system designed to prevent – as well as treat – behavioral and emotional problems in children and teenagers, aiming at preventing problems in the family, school and community before they arise and to create family environments that encourage children to realize their potential.
Dr. Meghna Singhal, a researcher at the University of Queensland is pursuing research related to positive parenting. Meghna recently won the Best International Researcher award at the International Clinical Psychologists conference, adjudged the best from among 350 people fro over 35 countries. I reached out to her and we spoke about how the Triple P program can fit into India and how Indian parents can benefit from this unique initiative. Read on:
Thank you for being here, Meghna. You are a researcher at the University of Queensland University and are pursuing research specifically related to parenting. Why did you decide on this topic?
I have always been interested in the field of child and adolescent psychology. After spending a majority of my clinical training in learning the aetiology and the treatment of various mental disorders in children and adolescents, I decided to focus my research on preventing these conditions. Positive parenting is one of the major factors in preventing child and adolescent mental health conditions, and luckily for us, it is in our hands to parent positively.
What do you think are India’s parenting strengths? And what are areas for improvement?
In India, there has always been an emphasis on parental obedience. Children are expected to be docile and obedient and bring honour to their families by exhibiting good behaviour and high achievement. Indian children, even when they are adults, are intertwined with their family for nurturance, growth, support, values, and development. Now that is changing with a shift to the nuclear family system, which has its own set of pros and cons.
You work on the Triple P parenting program. Can you tell us more about it?
Triple P- Positive Parenting Program system of family intervention to help parents promote their children’s development and manage their behaviour in a constructive and non-hurtful manner. It is a preventatively oriented program that aims to promote positive, caring relationships between parents and their children, and to help parents develop effective management strategies for dealing with common developmental issues as well as childhood emotional and behavioural problems.
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Triple P is one of the most evidence-based parenting programs in the world, backed by over 30 years of international scientific research. It is offered in individual, group, and online formats.
On Bringing the Triple P to India
India is a very different market. Do you think you would need tweak elements of the program for this market?
Definitely! India is extremely diverse, be it in cultures, languages, people, or even approaches to parenting. Before we introduce Triple P in any country, we undertake intensive research into attitudes toward parenting, the challenges parents face, the disciplining strategies they use, and the kind of parenting program they would like to access. The results of this research feed into the modifications we make to the Triple P program to make it culturally acceptable and feasible.
How do you foresee an impact on the parents taking this program?
Triple P is likely to have a far-reaching impact on the parents participating in it. Some of the effects that we foresee are: helping parents forge warmer relationships with their children, based on mutual respect and trust; helping parents manage any behavioural difficulties in their children; helping them deal with every day challenging tasks of raising children; and in the long run, preventing mental health conditions in children and adolescents.
How does your research feed into this program?
We are still in the process of conducting a pan-India parenting survey to investigate the parenting processes- how the Indian cultural ethos fits in with the principles of Triple P, and what are the preferences of Indian parents with regard to how they would like to access the program with convenience. Once our research is wrapped up, we will be able to develop a variant of Triple P suited to the Indian sensibilities.
On bringing Triple P to everyday parents
What is your primary method of disseminating this program to parents? What would be the best way for parents to reach you?
Currently, we are disseminating the Triple P through two research projects- one project entails delivering a Triple P parenting seminar to parents working in corporate organisations. The other project involves delivering an online Triple P program to parents who identify as facing difficulties in managing their children’s behaviours.
Currently, we are recruiting participants through social media, residential colonies, and corporate organisations. If any parent wants to participate in or wants more information about either of these projects, they can write to me at [email protected]
What are your plans for the Triple P India program in the future?
Our long-term plan is to increase the reach of Triple P- to make it accessible to every family, every socio-economic group, and every part of the country. We are extremely optimistic about our plans, given the huge demand for parenting programs in today’s context, with the rapidly changing social structures, the invading presence of social media in our lives, and the ever-present question in the minds of parents ‘How will my child turn out?’