Positive Parenting program preventing violence and creating positive change in households
Five parents share their experiences
Families are reporting positive changes and enjoying improved parent-child relationships and bonds after practicing alternative positive discipline approaches they learned from a parenting program supported by UNICEF.
The Parenting for Child Development (P4CD) is a parenting program developed for Papua New Guinea with the aim of reducing harsh parenting, child maltreatment and violence against children. Facilitated by UNICEF, the program is delivered by Faith Based Organizations and Civil Society Organization in five provinces, including the National Capital District.
Five participants who attended the program delivered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lae, Morobe Province, share their experiences and the positive relationships they now enjoy with their children.
Stay at home mum, Lina Simon, struggled to look after her children when her husband died suddenly in 2018.
Left with nine children to manage - four of her own and five adopted children who ranged in age between 3 and 18, Lina felt her own life slowly slipping away.
“My teenagers became rebellious and disrespected me. My youngest child gave me a lot of headaches. He had no respect for me. When I hit him out of anger, or didn’t have his meals ready, he would break our plates or stand on the road and throw stones at me."
Out of desperation to save her family from falling apart, Lina signed up for the P4CD training in 2020 and hasn’t looked back since then.
“I learned so many things. How to talk to my children, listen to them, have real conversations with them and understand each other. I stopped hitting my children and started practicing what I learned. The biggest change I see is in my youngest child who listens to me. He stopped doing all those awful things to me and I am happy now.”
Elementary school teacher, Jossie Nason’s only child, was 6 years old when Jossie signed up to be a P4CD facilitator.
“My daughter was a demanding child who wouldn’t take no for an answer and often didn’t listen to me so I used to hit her. She liked talking back to me and would get upset if I didn’t do things her ways, Jossie explains.
“After the training, I stopped hitting her. I learned to understand her needs and changed my ways. I talk to her nicely and I’ve seen her change over time. When she makes me mad, she waits for me to calm down and then she apologises for her behaviour. She never did that before. We don’t’ have those fights anymore.”
Newly married Elementary School Teacher, Manase Bail, has no children of his own yet but sees positive changes in his students in the classroom.
“I attended this training in 2020 and I see that this discipline approach is an important life development for a child. I am a teacher, I’m newly married and I don’t have any children yet, but one change I see is inside the classroom when I am with my students (aged 3 – 9 years),” Manase explains.
“In the classroom, I see change in the children of parents who have been exposed to this programme. These children are different. Their learning is different. These children are obedient, calm and don’t cause trouble in school, they listen at once and they are quick to learn new things. That’s what I’ve seen in my classroom. This is a good programme that I would like all parents to take part in because we can develop good human resources in our communities and nation.”
Manase who was single when he attended the training, says one thing stood out for him in the training.
“I learned that a child is already learning while it is still in the womb, so it is learning from repeated experience. When we repeat negative behaviour, the child learns that. Example, when the father hits the mother while pregnant and the mother is affected and upset, the child can sense it and that impacts on the child’s development outside the womb.”
Shelina admits that she used to dish out tough love when it came to disciplining her only child without realizing how it was affecting her child.
“I attended the training in 2020 when my daughter was 9 years old at the time. Before that I was a rough parent and the boss at home. My way of discipline is nothing like what I learned in this training and I regret how I disciplined my child then,” Shelina recalls and blames herself for some undesired behaviour she sees in her child.
“I realise now that some bad behaviour we see in our children is behaviour they learned from us as parents. This is a good training that I would encourage all parents to take.”
Shortly after the training, Shelina’s husband died.
“When he was alive, I used to talk harshly to him too. I regretted that because my daughter was learning that behaviour. After laying my husband to rest, there was just the two of us … me and my daughter. I decided then that I would change my attitude and practice what I learned. Our bond is even stronger now and we respect each other more,” she adds.
Naomi was one of the first participants in the P4CD program in 2019.
“I used to think that a baby couldn’t hear anything so I would say anything in the presence of a baby. But that baby can hear even though it can’t respond. That child’s brain is absorbing everything around them. I learned that even if a baby cannot talk, it can hear and stores everything in their brain, good or bad,” Naomi explains.
Her own seven children still find it hard to believe the change they see in their mother’s attitude towards her grandson.
“During the training, I had a lot of regrets because my children were teenagers at that stage. I thought back to day one when I gave birth to them and how I used to mistreat them because I was busy and didn’t have time for them. I thought about all that and I cried because I knew then that I had done something wrong. I did not look after their brain development,” Namo recalls.
“If children grow up seeing positive behaviour and attention displayed by their parents, they display the same behavior with their friends and peers, they become good role models. We want all the parents in our communities to know this programme and understand how a child’s brain develops and how our attitudes and behaviours affect young children.”
An evaluation of the program in 2022 found that parents exposed to the P4CD program, were empowered to apply positive child rearing parenting practices and invested time to enhance child-parent relationships that helped create safe spaces for children.