The value of strength-based parenting

Strength-based parenting can bring huge benefits, using positive psychology to unlock your children’s potential and enhance their wellbeing.

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It’s widely accepted in today’s culture that good parenting requires a balance of warmth and control. Research shows that parents who respond to the needs of children in loving ways, whilst setting rules that build independence and emotional intelligence, produce the best-adjusted, most resourceful, and highest-achieving kids.

Referred to as ‘authoritative parenting’, this style of parenting was identified by University of California, Los Angeles, psychologist Dr Diana Baumrind, whose research on parenting spans three decades, from 1960-1990.

Her work identified that authoritative parenting has the most positive effect on a child’s wellbeing and inspired further research that began in the 90s, on emotional coaching (the warmth aspect) and autonomy-granting parents (the control aspect), and still continues today.

While I certainly agree with an authoritative approach, I’d also argue that parenting research needs to evolve. Sure, parent-child relationships still need warmth and control but, as a psychology researcher and a mother of two, I’m interested in updating our knowledge of effective parenting. After all, we’re well and truly into the 21st Century and yet the bulk of parenting practices are based on ideas put forward in the 1960s and 1990s. Isn’t it time for an upgrade? Continue reading “The value of strength-based parenting”

Mainstream schools need to take back responsibility for educating disengaged students

Helen Stokes, University of Melbourne and Malcolm Turnbull, University of Melbourne

In this series we’ll explore how to improve schools in Australia. Some of the most prominent experts in the sector tackle key questions, including why we are not seeing much progress; whether we are assessing children in the most effective way; why parents need to listen to what the evidence tells us, and much more. The Conversation


Mainstream schools need to take back responsibility of educating all students, even those who have temporarily become disengaged in education.

An alternative education sector has rapidly expanded in recent decades as Australian federal and state policies have sought to keep disengaged and vulnerable young people in education.

Over 900 plus so-called flexible learning programs are operating throughout the country, within and outside mainstream schools, catering for more than 70,000 students each year. Continue reading “Mainstream schools need to take back responsibility for educating disengaged students”

From one ‘N’ to many – understanding more about self and family as a way to wellbeing

The Positive Times positive education website published this article from the Berry Street Childhood Insitute’s Leonie Abbott:

‘When it comes to positive education, how often do you practice what you learn within your own context to fully feel and understand what you learn before you then teach strategies to your class?

Teachers are terrific consumers of learning. They are often hungry for strategies that will work for their students. I too, am a teacher with considerable experience in the classroom and in school leadership. In my knowledge quest, I notice that sometimes teachers sidestep their own personal learning in order to transfer new knowledge to their classroom because “my students need this.”’

Read the full article on The Positive Times

Australian students are becoming increasingly disengaged at school – here’s why

Around one in five Australian school students don’t find school engaging, which means they are less likely to learn properly.

By Pearl Subban, Monash University

Around one in five Australian school students don’t find school engaging, which means they are less likely to learn properly. It’s an issue that tends to worsen as students become older.

A study showed that in year 7, 70% of students observed found school engaging, but in year 9, this dropped to 55%. Continue reading “Australian students are becoming increasingly disengaged at school – here’s why”

Advancing Children’s Learning and Development

For most children, moving from preschool through to the senior years is a normal rite of passage. However, for the students who arrive at the doors to our Berry Street School, school has been another negative experience along a road marked by trauma and disruption.

While the Australian education system provides an excellent option for most students, for young people who have experienced trauma through neglect, abuse and family violence, it can be a real struggle to fit within the mainstream school system. Continue reading “Advancing Children’s Learning and Development”

Root of youth riots demand, not management

By Dr Sarah Wise, University of Melbourne and Berry Street Good Childhood Fellow.

Spectacular incident and response scenes at the Parkville youth justice precinct have sparked a lot of talk in the community on how to manage serious and violent acting-out behavior and offending by a small number of young people in Victoria. Predictably, the voice of ‘tough on crime’ populism has been at high volume.

Before we snap to punitive responses, it’s worth understanding the true complexity behind these events and youth crime more generally, as well as the systemic approach to youth justice that we have in place already. Continue reading “Root of youth riots demand, not management”

Flexible learning helps students with disadvantages finish school

Despite encouragement from federal, state and territory governments to complete school – and a legal obligation to “learn or earn” – one in five young Australians still leaves school before the end of Year 12.

By Kitty Te Riele, Victoria University

Despite encouragement from federal, state and territory governments to complete school – and a legal obligation to “learn or earn” – one in five young Australians still leaves school before the end of Year 12.

Evidence about early school leavers in Australia demonstrates they are disproportionately drawn from disadvantaged backgrounds, including low-socioeconomic backgrounds, Indigenous backgrounds and regional and remote areas. Continue reading “Flexible learning helps students with disadvantages finish school”