This 6-part series on how to help your child be happier, healthier and reach their potential is brought to you by Triple P Parenting in Knox County.
Being a parent has never been easy, from the sleepless nights with a three-week-old, to the temper tantrums of a two-year-old, to the standoffishness of a 16-year-old. Each stage of a child’s life not only brings new challenges for them, but for the parent or caretaker as well.
But just because it is difficult does not make it impossible. With the right tools under one’s belt, parenting does not have to feel like a chore.
According to Coordinator for Parent Support Initiative in Knox County, Susan McDonald, The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) can best be described as an evidence based education program with five levels that speak to anything from mild to serious concerns in kids.
Triple P in Knox County works closely with many community partners including Knox County Head Start, supporting staff with Triple P PECE (Positive Early Education Program) and offering parents both virtual and in-person parenting classes, discussion groups and one-on-one sessions
“The way to have healthier families and healthier children is to lower adverse childhood experiences in Knox County and the best way to do that is through parent support and education,” McDonald said.
Over 35 years ago, Triple P was born at the University of Queensland in Australia. Spreading all across the globe, the program teaches parents and caregivers a variety of skills on how to remain calm, consistent and confident in parenthood.
“From years of research Triple P knows which strategies match the results you want to have. While every family is unique, it helps take some of the guesswork out of parenting. When we focus our attention on the behaviors we want, we will see more of that behavior. Triple P helps to prevent misbehavior and teaches parents how to manage behavior in a positive way,” McDonald said.
The program emphasizes five key components: ensuring a safe, engaging environment, promoting a positive learning environment, using assertive discipline, maintaining reasonable expectations and taking care of oneself as a parent, according to an evidence summary performed by Social Programs that Work.
The Knox Parent Support Initiative works with a variety of parents and caregivers. Some come for support because they don’t feel they have the right skills to parent the way they want to and really want basic parenting strategies.
Others feel they have the skills they need but feel depleted and exhausted by the end of the day and just need support to remain calm and consistent in their parenting. One of the main questions McDonald hears from a parent is: “I already know how to be a parent, why do I need parent education?”
From personal experience, McDonald knows what it is like to be a mom of three children. She had one still in grade school and two teens when she went through Triple P training. She can confidently say she learned to be a more calm and consistent parent due to the strategies taught in the program.
“Triple P strategies aren’t only about our relationship with our kids. They are also about taking care of ourselves as a parent so we can enjoy parenting more,” she said. “Getting parenting support and learning strategies to address our children's needs and behaviors as they grow up is one way to fill your own cup before trying to fill anyone else’s, including our child’s.
Regulating and managing our own emotions will teach our children how to manage their own emotions. These are skills they will carry into adulthood so they will be good problem solvers and able to manage conflict with their own family and with employers.
“We have seen so many positive outcomes of this program for families, including improved parenting and increased knowledge of child development, and parents reporting that they are yelling less, enjoying their children more, and finding social support through the program,” Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan, Kathryn Maguire-Jack said.
Last year it was announced the state of Ohio would receive a $3 million investment into Triple P from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and The Ohio Children’s Trust Fund. Through this funding, any parent or caregiver in Ohio is able to take free Triple P Online or Teen Triple P Online courses to help them thrive in parenting.
“I feel it is such a privilege to work in this field and Knox County is incredibly lucky that we have additional funding through the Ariel Foundation and United Way of Knox County that allows any parent or caregiver in Knox County to receive local coaching and support for the online classes as well as local in-person and virtual Triple P classes at no cost,” McDonald said.
The Knox Parent Support Initiative prides itself in being the only county in the U.S. that has accredited facilitators for Triple P’s Fear-Less, a program dedicated to teaching parents to recognize, respond and help their children and teens manage anxiety, according to McDonald.
For more information about Triple P or to sign up for classes, visit their website.