The Triple P-Positive Parenting programme sets a promising example, as it appears to have the potential to meet many of the currently unmet needs identified within this paper. The flexibility of Triple P’s delivery options make it a cost-effective programme, offering only as much contact and assistance as parents need. Its multi-level approach means each programme is tailored to suit each family’s needs, the severity of the child’s problem behaviours, and their impact on family functioning. It also applies to a broad age range; from birth to adolescence. The Triple P programme has been well-received by many different socio- economic and cultural groups, and does not require a high level of literacy, as the materials are designed for the reading level of an average 11-year-old. Where literacy is a major difficulty, the programme uses DVD’s and behaviour rehearsal so that it can be delivered without reading material. Furthermore, the programme has been successful for complex families (parents with stress, depression, marital problems, or with disadvantaged backgrounds). It offers support to children with behavioural problems or emotional problems, with or without disabilities. The programme can also be delivered in a variety of formats, including face-to-face, group, telephone-assisted or self-directed programmes, enabling parents who have busy lifestyles or who live in remote areas to participate.
However, limited resources mean it may be an impossible task to provide intensive behavioural parent training programmes to all parents of children with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviour. Furthermore, some families may not be able to commit to a long intensive behavioural intervention. This implies that a significant amount of families in need will go without support for their child’s challenging behaviour. This highlights the need for information and practical advice for managing challenging behaviour to be as widely available as possible. Indeed, as part of the multi-level approach of the Triple P programme, Levels 1 and 2 provide all interested parents with access to useful information about parenting, and advice for specific parenting concerns.
These resources (reading materials and DVDs, with practical step-by-step instructions, advice, examples of implementation along with a variety of useful contacts) could be made widely accessible within communities, for families in need of advice. Indeed, parents generally receive little preparation beyond the experience of having been parented themselves, and support is usually only offered or accessible when behaviour problems have already become difficult to manage. Perhaps this information could be disseminated to parents from mainstream services and charities, as a form of self-help package to target hard to reach families (for example, disadvantaged families who are less likely to actively seek help for the children’s behaviour problems).
Indeed, the use of internet and media interventions has the potential to increase any programme’s potential reach, extending to hard to access groups. These materials could also enable parents on waiting lists for parent training programmes to increase their knowledge of the behavioural strategies and to practice the skills to help prepare them for the programme (potentially enhancing the positive outcomes gained from the programmes). Evidence shows that the positive outcomes from the programmes are not always maintained once the specialist input is withdrawn. Therefore, ongoing family support groups or refresher sessions after the programmes could assist parents to maintain the progress they have made.