Bringing Up Great Kids (BUGK) is a group parenting program that runs over 6 weeks and aims to improve your relationship with your children. The program uses ideas of mindfulness and reflection to support parents to review and enhance patterns of communication with their children, to promote more respectful interactions and encourage the development of children’s positive self-identity. It aims to identify and address the sources of unhelpful or hurtful attitudes held by parents. It also works to establish a new relationship context for children and their parents through facilitating opportunities for positive exchanges.
Many of the most widely adopted parent support and education programs focus on how parent-child
interactions can be managed so as to secure parental control over the child’s behaviour, particularly where matters of discipline are concerned (McGurk 1996). The focus of these programs tends to be equipping parents with a set of skills which can be applied to a range of child behaviours that are deemed problematic. Because of their behaviour management approaches, these programs often neglect elements which promote positive and nurturing relationships between parents and children and encourage parents to reflect on the nature of their relationship with their children. Although most parents take parenting seriously, many parents lack confidence in their parenting, feel they could be better parents and that spending time with their children gets lost in trying to balance work and other pressures (Tucci et al, 2004).
Using the metaphor of ‘Messages’ as a basis for building positive parent/child relationships, parents doing Bringing Up Great Kids are encouraged to explore and reflect upon messages they received from their own experience of being parented. Parents are invited to give consideration to the ways in which these messages might be impacting on their own parenting style and the messages they, in turn, are sending their own children. The program draws from child-centred and strengths-based perspectives, neurobiological development, attachment theory and narrative approaches.
Independent evaluation of the program conducted by Deakin University in 2005 found that parents reported a significant reduction in parental stress, a decrease in family conflict, significant increase in parental confidence and very high levels of satisfaction with the program. The evaluation concluded that the program may be an effective intervention in building positive child-parent relationships, reducing parenting stress and minimising the possibility of harmful parental behaviour towards their children.