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30 August 2023

Stressed, angry and lacking sleep: Kiwi parents crying out for support – study

Three quarters of New Zealand parents believe Government should better fund parenting support programmes. More than half (51%) of Kiwi parents say their children’s behaviour causes them stress and anxiety, almost a third (31%) are regularly losing sleep over it, and a quarter (26%) say it makes them feel angry, according to research released today by parenting experts Triple P New Zealand.

Further, half of all parents are worried it’s their own parenting style that’s the cause of their child’s challenging behaviour.

The research reveals that dealing with tantrums and discipline were the top challenges for parents of children aged 4 and under, while managing screentime, along with emotional wellbeing and building resilience were the biggest issues for parents of school aged children.

Triple P New Zealand Country Manager, Jackie Riach, says New Zealanders have faced many hurdles in the last three years.

“The pandemic and lockdowns, followed by the frightening weather events, and now the increasing cost of living pressures have piled on to the normal challenges that come with being a parent. Many have been left with fragile mental health and wellbeing and need more support.”

Publicly funded antenatal classes are available to any person preparing to be a parent in New Zealand, providing an opportunity to learn about labour, birth and the first few weeks after a baby is born.

According to the research, most Kiwi parents (87%) believe a parenting support programme should be a natural progression from antenatal classes and more than three quarters (76%) agree it should be government funded.

The study also reveals that three quarters (75%) would engage in a parenting support programme if it were offered to them for free, with cost (63%) being stated as one of the biggest barriers to accessing support.

“This research confirms that Kiwi parents are struggling and not able to access the support they need, free of charge and on their terms,” says Riach.

“We’ve seen time and time again that giving parents funded access to the tools and strategies they require to build good relationships with their children, can transform lives. Feeling confident you’re doing the right thing as a parent is so important, especially when you start to feel overwhelmed by your child’s behaviour and unsure about how to manage it.”

Almost half (48%) of Kiwi parents prefer to receive parenting support online, allowing them to complete the programme when it best suits their busy schedules, as lack of time was a key factor (64%) preventing parents from seeking support.

“Navigating children’s common behavioural challenges, like tantrums, mealtime or bedtime resistance, can be emotionally testing for any parent. We must support our parents and provide them with simple, yet effective strategies for raising happy, confident kids – which will result in happy, stress-free parents and whānau,” says Riach.

“Triple P works with governments around the world to deliver our parenting programmes free to parents. We continue to see first-hand how enhancing parents’ knowledge, skills and confidence benefits children, families and society. Through our evidence base, we know what it takes for families to overcome life’s challenges, and this becomes even more important in uncertain times.”