Posts Tagged families commission

Kiwi families using positive discipline because it works

October 18, 2009

Kiwi families say they are increasingly using positive parenting techniques because they work, according to 100 ordinary families’ descriptions of their own parenting methods.

Interviews were conducted with 117 parents from 100 families as part of a Families Commission Blue Skies funded project that investigated what kind of discipline strategies are used by today’s families with their pre-school children. Researchers Julie Lawrence and Anne B Smith also asked families to record their discipline practices in parenting diaries.

Download the report.

Julie Lawrence and Anne Smith: Family discipline in context

June 16, 2009

Julie Lawrence and Anne Smith presented their interim findings from their research at Otago University today at the Families Commission’s Annual Research Seminar.

We’re pleased to be able to bring you a slideshow and audio of their talk.

Audio:

Abstract:

Family discipline is a controversial topic which has been debated for centuries, and which is known to have a lifelong effect on the well being of children. This report provides a snapshot of the views, experiences and practices of a sample of 100 New Zealand families, in relation to the discipline of their preschool children.

Parents/caregivers were asked about what they believed about discipline, how they disciplined their children, and the type of support and stress that they experienced with parenting. The study also looked at the effect of child and family characteristics and context over time, on discipline. The study used a multi-method approach, involving semi-structured parent interviews, parent diaries of disciplinary events over three days in a two week period, and a standardised tool, the Parenting Daily Hassles scale. One hundred and seventeen caregivers comprised the national sample – 99 mothers, 18 fathers, one grandfather and two grandmothers. The findings include the following headings: beliefs about discipline; disciplinary practices; the influence of child and family characteristics, stresses, context and support. The findings suggest a more favourable picture of New Zealand parents’ disciplinary practice than previous research has, showing that the majority of parents took an authoritative (firm but warm) approach, and suggests that professionals who work with families could benefit from professional development programmes focusing on effective approaches to discipline.

Background:

  • Research shows disciplinary practices during childhood have lifelong consequences
  • Most previous research has focused on broad surveys and physical punishment – NZ parents favour relatively negative disciplinary techniques (Ritchie & Ritchie; Maxwell)
  • Need for better parent education and support in context of legal change in NZ
  • Little knowledge of the challenges parents face in using discipline in everyday contexts

Research questions:

  • What do New Zealand families with preschool age children believe about appropriate disciplinary practices for children?
  • What are the range and typical uses of discipline in New Zealand families?
  • How are family disciplinary practices influenced by context and events over time?
  • What type of support (if any) do families receive in their parenting with young children?

Summary of findings:

  • Majority of parents use authoritative or mixed approach (ie sometimes they are permissive)
  • Positive methods (rewards, praise and reasoning) more commonly used than negative methods (smacking or shouting). Timeout the most common punishment.
  • No enthusiasm for physical punishment.
  • Own experience of parenting important – but can be rejected.
  • Books and TV hugely important source of info and support.
  • Family and friends important supports but also early childhood teachers (other professionals less mentioned)

You can also download the presentation (PDF)

NZ Research: Only one in ten parents believe smacking is effective

June 15, 2009

More evidence is emerging that Kiwi parents are favouring positive parenting strategies for disciplining their children over smacking or hitting.

New Zealand is nearing the second anniversary of the law change that gave children the same legal protection against assault as adults.

New information on family discipline practices is being presented tomorrow (Tuesday June 16 2009) in Wellington at the Families Commission annual research seminar.  The early findings are from the second report on a study of 100 families carried out by Otago University researchers Julie Lawrence and Anne Smith.  The report, funded by the Commission, will be published in a few months.

Professor Smith said, “In our research four out of ten of the parents said that they occasionally smacked their children. However, less than one in ten felt it was effective.”

In contrast, timeout, which was the most commonly used disciplinary strategy was thought to be effective by four out of ten parents.

“Parents who had been brought up being whacked as children were often determined to do it differently and had moved away from smacking their own children.”

Professor Smith said the parents in the study were much less accepting or supportive of physical punishment than those in studies done ten and 20 years ago.  These latest findings agreed with a 2008 survey done funded by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Chief Commissioner of the Families Commission, Dr Jan Pryor, says the repeal of Section 59 sent a clear signal that hitting children was not acceptable and this study shows attitudes appear to be changing.

“Consistent parenting strategies which use rewards, distraction and consequences such as timeout are proven to be more effective at teaching children self discipline than physical punishment.

“The law is working well, parents are not being criminalised for trivial offences and there is growing understanding and use of positive parenting strategies,” she said.

Families Commission to run research seminar

May 19, 2009

The Families Commission will run an all-day research seminar series on 16 June at the Wellington Convention Centre.

The programme includes presentation of the results of recently completed projects and progress reports on studies underway. This is an opportunity for researchers, practitioners, policymakers and other interested groups to come together and discuss issues of significance for families.

Of particular interest to followers of  Child Discipline issues is the presentation on “Family Discipline in Context” at 4.00pm.  The abstract reads:

Family discipline in context – Julie Lawrence and Anne Smith
Family discipline is a controversial topic which has been debated for centuries, and which is known to have a lifelong effect on the well being of children. This report provides a snapshot of the views, experiences and practices of a sample of 100 New Zealand families, in relation to the discipline of their preschool children.

Parents/caregivers were asked about what they believed about discipline, how they disciplined their children, and the type of support and stress that they experienced with parenting. The study also looked at the effect of child and family characteristics and context over time, on discipline. The study used a multi-method approach, involving semi-structured parent interviews, parent diaries of disciplinary events over three days in a two week period, and a standardised tool, the Parenting Daily Hassles scale. One hundred and seventeen caregivers comprised the national sample – 99 mothers, 18 fathers, one grandfather and two grandmothers. The findings include the following headings: beliefs about discipline; disciplinary practices; the influence of child and family characteristics, stresses, context and support. The findings suggest a more favourable picture of New Zealand parents’ disciplinary practice than previous research has, showing that the majority of parents took an authoritative (firm but warm) approach, and suggests that professionals who work with families could benefit from professional development programmes focusing on effective approaches to discipline.

For more information, you can download the invitation (PDF), abstracts (PDF), and programme and registration form (Word doc).  Be sure to RSVP by 2 June.

Druis Barrett quits the Families Commission in protest

May 14, 2009

Druis Barrett resigned from The Families Commission today in protest at Christine Rankin’s appointment.

In an excellent interview on today’s Morning Report (listen below), she says “I wouldn’t go as far as to say that [Christine Rankin] was racist, but she’s damn well close to it”.  In the same interview, Hone Kaa agrees with her, saying that Rankin’s comments were unhelpful.

The Herald reports that Rankin’s comment that so upset Barrett was “Maori whanau don’t look after their own, and that [they] should be responsible for the many children that are at risk and have been killed”, implying that Māori were doing nothing about the problem.

In fact, groups like Te Kahui Mana Ririki, Save The Children, Barnardos and Plunket have been running Māori led programs to attack these problems for years.

Listen to the Morning Report interview:

Paula Bennett on Christine Rankin: That’s politics!

May 13, 2009

Radio New Zealand’s Parliamentary Chief Reporter Jane Patterson covered the controversy surrounding Christine Rankin’s appointment as a Family Commissioner on Morning Report today, available for your listening pleasure below:

The report includes comments from Phil Goff, Tariana Turia, Peter Dunne, and Jan Pryor.

We think that the responsible minister, Paula Bennett sums it up best in her own words: “Hey, that’s politics!”

Families Commission welcomes new commissioners Christine Rankin and Bruce Pilbrow

May 12, 2009

The Families Commission is looking forward to working with the two newly announced Commissioners, Christine Rankin and Bruce Pilbrow.

They join five other Commissioners on the Board.  Mr Pilbrow will bring with him his strong interest in parenting and we look forward to working with him.  The Commission is also aware of Ms Rankin’s commitment to the prevention of child abuse and shares her concern about this issue.

It was this shared concern that led the Board to its unanimous decision to support the new child discipline law.   We look forward to hearing Ms Rankin’s thoughts on ways to reduce New Zealand’s high rate of family violence and will welcome her input into our future work on this issue.

The law is working well and is achieving what was intended – parents who are charged with assaulting a child can no longer defend themselves in court by claiming they were using reasonable force to discipline the child.

The Commission’s reasons for supporting the law have not changed.

We based our position on research which shows very clearly that positive parenting strategies (such as rewarding good behaviour and distracting young children and ignoring minor unwanted behaviour) are far more effective and safer than physical punishment.  Research also shows that most child abuse cases begin as physical punishment.  There are risks that smacking can escalate to abuse – and the harder a child is hit, the more damaging it is for their future wellbeing. Hitting children also models violence as a way of resolving conflict.

One of the objectives of law reform was to make the law congruent with positive non-violent parenting messages and the law now clearly states that there is no legal justification for the use of force to correct a child’s behaviour.

This is a direct message to parents encouraging them to use strategies for managing their child’s behaviour that do not include smacking or hitting.

It appears that growing numbers of parents understand this.  A Ministry of Health Survey in mid 2007 showed that only 1 in 22 parents considered physical punishment to be effective.  Of the parents who had actually used physical punishment in the previous four weeks only one in three considered it to be effective.

Healthy, positive relationships within families do not involve people hitting each other and the Commission continues to believe that [the enactment of the Child Discipline Law in 2007] was one step that, combined with other nationwide efforts to address violence, will help us become a violence-free society.

Jan Pryor
Chief Commissioner

Families Commission report: Loving, nurturing environments lead to healthy brain development

May 5, 2009

The critical role of parents and caregivers in the physical development of children’s brains has been highlighted in a report released by the Families Commission today.

Healthy Families, Young Minds and Developing Brains vividly demonstrates how a child’s experience of love, pleasure and security – or the lack of these – has a major impact on issues as diverse as family violence, crime, social and educational success and mental health.

Prepared by Charles and Kasia Waldegrave for the Commission, the study identifies factors that enable children to reach their full potential, or prevent them from doing so. It demonstrates that the environment children experience in their early years impacts on their young minds which, in turn, affects how well they pick up everything from language and writing to important social and moral skills such as knowing how to control their emotions and desires. They might also fail to develop empathy for others, the skill needed to understand that some actions harm other people.

Author Charles Waldegrave says: “In loving, nurturing environments the child’s brain will develop normally. But recent developments in neuroscience and child development show that ongoing experiences of neglect, abuse or violence can seriously damage development in children, leading to long term impairment of their intellectual, emotional and social functioning.”

Chief Families Commissioner Dr Jan Pryor says the study shows how important it is for governments and society to value parenting and create environments that support strong, resilient, loving families and whanau within which to raise children.

“It also highlights the importance of early intervention if things do start to go wrong for families,” Dr Pryor says. “The longer a child experiences serious deprivation, the higher the chance that this will have serious long term impacts on their functioning as an adult and the harder it will be for intervention to remedy that harm.”

The paper also discusses how the experiences of the early years impact on society, Dr Pryor says.

“For instance, the Government has signalled that it is very interested in the drivers of crime. What this research tells us is that impaired mind and brain development during childhood can be a major contributor to criminal behaviour in later life, because of the developing child’s inability to self regulate and create sensitive relationships with others.”

The Families Commission will use the study to develop advice it is preparing for the Government on the importance of early intervention, what types of intervention are needed, what works best, and where government and community family services can best target their money and efforts for best effect. The study will also contribute to the Commission’s work for easy access by parents to parenting support information, early childhood education and childcare.

Download the report: Healthy Families, Young Minds and Developing Brains

Families Commission: Promote positive discipline

April 29, 2009

As parents become better informed about the positive and effective ways of disciplining children the less confusion there will be over New Zealand’s law regarding physical punishment, the Families Commission says.

Chief Commissioner Dr Jan Pryor responded today to a statement from Family First NZ which suggested that immigrants to New Zealand were confused about this country’s child discipline law. “Family First has selectively used a few small quotes from our Settling In report on how immigrant families adjust to New Zealand culture,” Dr Pryor said, “but Mr McCoskrie should have read further. The report also says very clearly that families realised their new environment in New Zealand had created a need for other ways of solving problems and that this had already changed their family relationships for the better.”

Dr Pryor said the report showed that parents are willing to learn new and better ways of approaching the issue of discipline in their families. Improving education and support for parents is a better answer.

“Healthy, positive relationships within families do not involve people hitting each other and the Commission continues to believe that repeal was one step that, combined with other nationwide efforts to address violence, will help us become a violence-free society. “Confusion is a poor excuse for throwing out a good law, rather is shows more effort is needed to improve public understanding.”

The law change did not introduce any new criminal offence. The offence was, and always has been one of assault; and police continue to investigate allegations of assault on children and prosecute only those where they believe the assault is serious enough to take to court.

Police say that since the law was introduced there has been no significant increase in the number of complaints, investigations, prosecutions or other activity related to smacking or minor physical assaults against children.

Hitting – not part of our future: Families Commissioner

March 29, 2009

By Jan Pryor
Chief Commissioner
Families Commission
29 March 2009

A year and a half after New Zealand’s child discipline law was changed, it’s clear more needs to be done to allay fears and encourage parents to raise their children without raising their hands.

In fact, the law is working well and is achieving what was intended. Parents who are charged with assaulting a child can no longer defend themselves in court by claiming they were using reasonable force to discipline the child.

The law change did not introduce any new criminal offence. The offence was, and always has been one of assault; and police continue to investigate allegations of assault on children and prosecute only those where they believe the assault is serious enough to take to court.

Police say that since the law was introduced there has been no significant increase in the number of complaints, investigations, prosecutions or other activity related to smacking or minor physical assaults against children.

It was quite disturbing to recently hear parents on talk back radio say that now that they ‘couldn’t smack’ they were forcing their children to eat soap, mustard or even chilli. Or, they screamed and yelled at their children to get their attention. How can this help a child learn to behave?

It’s very difficult to understand why parents would want to use these sorts of strategies when positive parenting techniques are so much more rewarding and effective. A phone call to any family agency such as Barnardos, Plunket, or a search on Google will point them to information on positive parenting.

The Families Commission is one of many organisations who supported the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

Healthy, positive relationships within families do not involve people hitting each other and the Commission continues to believe that repeal was one step that, combined with other nationwide efforts to address violence, will help us become a violence-free society.

We based our position on research which shows very clearly that positive parenting strategies (such as rewarding good behaviour and distracting young children and ignoring minor unwanted behaviour) are far more effective and safer.

Research shows that most child abuse cases begin as physical punishment. There are risks that smacking can escalate to abuse – and the harder a child is hit, the more damaging it is for their future wellbeing. Hitting children also models violence as a way of resolving conflict.

The best and most effective parenting practices do not use physical punishment and positive strategies are better at helping children to learn self discipline and to behave well in the long term.

One of the objectives of law reform was to make the law congruent with positive non-violent parenting messages and the new law now clearly states that there is no legal justification for the use of force to correct a child’s behaviour.

This is a direct message to parents encouraging them to use strategies for managing their child’s behaviour that do not include smacking or hitting.

More and more parents are learning these skills through the government’s SKIP (Strategies for Kids Information for Parents) leaflets and parenting courses, or through other similar programmes offered by various non-government agencies.

A Ministry of Health Survey in mid 2007 showed that only 1 in 22 parents considered physical punishment to be effective. Of the parents who had actually used physical punishment in the previous four weeks only one in three considered it to be effective.

We are now at the point where another recent survey on behalf of the Office of the Children’s Commission has shown that 43 percent of people support the new law.

However, some of this progress could be undermined by the citizens initiated postal referendum being held in the middle of the year on the question, “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

Should anyone be hit as a way to change their behaviour – let alone a small child? Should employers be able to smack employees? Should coaches hit team members when they do something to let down the team? Why should it be OK to hit children – who are so much smaller and vulnerable?

We suspect many people may chose not to vote in the referendum because they can’t agree or disagree with the question – or simply because it’s no longer an issue for them

We need more public education about the law and continued investment in positive parenting programmes.

As parents, we all want to raise our children to be happy well adjusted adults. We all want to be great parents. However, it’s not always easy and not something we can always do just by instinct.

The best parents are those who aren’t afraid to seek help and advice. Finding out about new and effective ways to raise our children is a sign of strength not an admission of failure.

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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