babyParents in the Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Tweed Heads region who are keen to boost their parenting skills are being invited to participate in a project run by Southern Cross University.

Erin Bailey (pictured), a PhD student with the Department of Psychology, is seeking participants in a study to evaluate the parenting program ‘1-2-3 Magic’. She is looking for parents who have a child aged between six and 12 years.

The program, which was originally developed in the United States, is being used throughout Australia to provide practical support and child management techniques to parents and care-givers.

The program is designed for children, aged between two and 12 years (for this study only parents of children aged six to 12 years are targeted) and is available either as a self-taught program or through a trained practitioner.

Ms Bailey said while the program was widely used both for families and in schools, there had not been any significant formal evaluation carried out.

“The program has wide application for parents and caregivers. It is a practical skills-based program that provides parents with specific techniques to manage the behaviour of their children,” Ms Bailey said.

“1-2-3 Magic is designed to provide simple techniques to stop ‘obnoxious’ behaviour, such as tantrums, arguing and fighting with siblings.

“There are also techniques to start ‘positive’ behaviour, such as getting a child to do their homework or to clean their room. The program is designed to enhance the parent-child relationship and to build self-esteem in children.”

Southern Cross University’s Department of Psychology was approached by an Australian provider of the program to undertake the evaluation and the project has the support of the US-based developer, Dr Thomas Phelan.

A pilot study was held in the Coffs Harbour region in 2008 involving 20 families.

“The results from that pilot study were encouraging. The main thing was that many parents felt there had been a positive change in children’s behaviour after just six weeks. A lot of parents also reported feeling more confident in their parenting abilities,” Ms Bailey said.

“Now we are extending the study and are looking to involve more than 200 families.

“We are looking for parents or care-givers who have had no prior exposure to either the 1-2-3 Magic or Three Choices parenting programs.

“The child whose behaviour is of concern must be aged between six and 12 years. This child must not have been previously diagnosed with a clinical condition such as ADHD, ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome.

“We’re looking for parents and care-givers who want to enhance their parenting skills, or who currently are concerned about the behaviour of their child. You don’t have to be a parent, but must be the primary care-giver.”

Parents or care-givers eligible to participate in the research will receive access to the 1-2-3 Magic program free of charge.

Parents will then be asked to complete a series of evaluative questionnaires at two, four, six and 12 months.

Orientation sessions are planned for February and March with the program sessions, to be held in Lismore, Coffs Harbour and at Tweed Gold Coast starting in May.

Anyone interested in taking part should contact Erin Bailey on (02) 6659 3385 to register for an information pack or email erin.bailey@scu.edu.au .

The research is being supervised by Dr Anna Brooks.