Published: January 13, 2020

Sanders, M. R. (2019). Harnessing the Power of Positive Parenting to Promote Wellbeing of Children, Parents and Communities Over a Lifetime. Behaviour Change36(2), 56-74.


Matthew Sanders


Evidence-based parenting support (EBPS) programs derived from social learning theory, cognitive behavioural principles, and developmental theory are among the most successful innovations in the entire field of psychological intervention. EBPS programs have been at the cutting edge of global dissemination efforts to increase community access to evidence-based parenting programs. Despite the widely recognised success of these efforts, existing models of parenting intervention are not a panacea, and much can be done to improved outcomes. Efforts to improve outcomes have included the emergence of a population-based approach to increase reach of intervention. This has included the development of flexible delivery modalities, including online parenting interventions, the incorporation of strategies to enhance cultural relevance and acceptability of programs, and more recently, applications with parents in very low resource settings. Further enhancements of outcomes are likely to be forthcoming as we gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that explain positive intervention effects and non-response to interventions. More cost-effective online professional training models are needed to disseminate and promote the sustained use of EBPS programs. New interventions are required for the most vulnerable parents when parenting concerns are complicated by other problems such as trauma, addictions, relationship conflict, family violence, mental health problems and intergenerational poverty. However, to scale effective programs, Commonwealth and state government policies and funding priorities need to respond to evidence about what works and make sustained investments in the implementation of parenting programs. Possible strategies to enhance the policy impact of intervention research are discussed.