Macquarie University
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Testing effective strategies for reducing child disruptive behaviours as an alternative to physical punishment in Australia: an evaluation of the 1-2-3 Magic parenting program

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posted on 2022-03-28, 23:26 authored by Renate Porzig-Drummond
With the intention of contributing to the halting of physical punishment of children in Australia, this thesis aims: (1) to summarise findings on the psychological effects of physical punishment of children, as well as Australian public opinion and policies regarding physical punishment of children; (2) to review evidence-based parenting programs that provide alternative disciplining strategies and are suitable for a public health approach in Australia; and (3) to expand the choice of evidence-based parenting programs in Australia by investigating the efficacy of group-based and of self-directed versions of the 1-2-3 Magic parenting program, a cognitive-behavioural parenting program that targets alternative disciplining strategies. A summary of psychosocial and legal perspectives on physical punishment of children and Australian caregivers’ perspectives (Paper One) identified that one key factor in achieving lasting change in parental use of harsh disciplining practices is the provision of alternative disciplining strategies to caregivers at a population level. For a public health approach, programs need to be cost-effective in terms of delivery, such as group-based programs, and conveniently accessible for caregivers, such as self-directed programs. A narrative literature review (Paper Two) revealed a limited choice of parenting programs that provide alternative disciplining strategies, are available in group- or self-directed formats, and have been evaluated in Australia. In order to expand the Australian evidence base of programs that meet the above criteria, the cognitive-behavioural 1-2-3 Magic parenting program was selected for further investigation. The main experimental study (Paper Three) used a randomised trial design (n = 91) with a waitlist control to examine two group-formats of the 1-2-3 Magic program (Australian presentation-based, and American DVD-based format), each delivered over three 2-hour sessions to large groups of 30 caregivers. Caregiver parenting were collected pre- and post-intervention and at 3-month and 2-year follow-up. A second experimental study (Paper Four) investigated a brief video-based self-directed format of the 1-2-3 Magic program (two 2-hour DVDs) in a randomised controlled trial (n = 84) with 6-month follow-up. A third outcome study (Paper Five) used an intervention-group only design (n = 50) to examine the Australian version of the 1-2-3 Magic parenting program in a metropolitan community-service setting. Results form all three outcome studies suggest that the 1-2-3 Magic program is effective in reducing child disruptive behaviours and dysfunctional parenting, with results from the self-directed and community-service studies preliminary in nature. Overall, results provide support for the conclusion that the 1-2-3 Magic parenting program is suitable for inclusion in a public health approach to the provision of alternative disciplining strategies. As the provision of alternative disciplining strategies to caregivers is a key component in effecting lasting parental attitudinal and behavioural change, this thesis has contributed in two ways to the overall aim of halting physical punishment of children in Australia: First, it identified the limited number of parenting programs that (i) provide alternative discipline strategies, (ii) are available in group and self-directed formats and are hence well suited to a public health approach, and (iii) are evidence-based in Australia. Second, this thesis expanded the evidence base of such parenting programs through the evaluation of groupbased and self-directed formats of the 1-2-3 Magic parenting program, a program that focuses on alternative disciplining strategies.


Table of Contents

General abstract -- Introductory overview -- Paper one: 'Help, not punishment. Moving on from the physical punishment of children -- Paper two: Parenting programs for child disruptive behaviours: a literature review of group-based and self-directed programs evidence-based in Australia -- Paper three: The 1-2-3 Magic parenting program and its effects on child problem behaviours and dysfunctional parenting: a randomised controlled trial -- Paper four: Preliminary evaluation of a self-directed video-based 1-2-3 Magic parenting program: a randomised controlled trial -- Paper five: From contgrolled trial to 'real-world' community setting - the 1-2-3 Magic parenting program -- Summary and conclusions -- Appendices.


Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Richard Stevenson


Copyright Renate Porzig-Drummond 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (262 leaves)

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