The series “Driving Mum and Dad Mad” broadcasted by British TV channel ITV followed the progress of five families whose children showed clear behavioural problems through the “Triple P - Positive Parenting Programme,” which provides guidance on parenting skills which promote good behavioural and emotional adjustment. Clinical psychologists Dr Rachel Calam and Professor Sanders studied a sample of the 4.2 million parents tuning into the first series in Spring 2005. The team assessed how much watching the programmes actually helped parents at home.

“This is the first national experiment to monitor parents working alongside a ‘TV info-tainment’ series and trying out the techniques shown,” Calam said. 465 parents completed an assessment of their children’s behaviour, parenting practices, confidence as a parent, stress levels and family circumstances before the series, which was repeated twelve weeks after the series started and again six months later. Parents who just watched the series and those given additional ‘enhanced support’ reported significantly fewer problems with both their children’s conduct and their parenting practices after twelve weeks.

“Over 40% of the children who had had severe behavioural problems at the beginning of the study showed clinically-reliable changes in behaviour, and moved into the ‘normal’ range on measures of disruptive behaviour. The parents also reported higher confidence in their ability to manage behavioural problems: 45% of them saying they were very much less likely to over-react to difficult behaviour,” the scientists stated.

The parents receiving the enhanced support showed fewer problems at the 12-week point in terms of child behaviour problems, parenting practices, and parental conflict, but both levels of intervention proved effective at reducing levels of parental distress and conflict and modifying children’s behaviour problems.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Manchester