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Find out about the purpose and ways you can use ara mātua – parenting pathways.

If you're working with a new whānau, it may be helpful to introduce them to ara mātua – parenting pathways.

You can use ara mātua with whānau as conversation starters or as ideas for parenting goals they might want to work on.

Ways to use ara mātua

Feedback from family support workers has shown that ara mātua are being used in a number of ways to enhance their mahi. Some kaimahi find them useful to wrap up a visit after the current challenges have been talked about or worked through. Using ara mātua in this way ensures that the child and their wellbeing is the focus during their visit.

Others use them specifically in goal setting exercises, or when developing ‘strengths and needs’ assessments with whānau. They are especially useful where parents may need help with ideas for playing or interacting with their kids. They’ve also been used as the main resource during support visits, alongside Whakatipu booklets. Whānau can assess where their parenting skills are now and how te tamaiti is responding to their actions, and then look immediately ahead to what might be of help next. It's best to focus on 2-3 ideas at a time.

Ngā tohu whānau

The ideas are clustered under ‘Ngā tohu whānau’ — also known as ‘The six principles of effective discipline’ or ‘What kids need to grow up to be happy and capable adults’. The ideas reflect what is written in the corresponding Whakatipu booklet and what is presented in this resource. In this way the activities weave through the material that the worker and parent will have discussed, or can be picked up as a topic that could be of specific interest.

Six principles of effective discipline

Each item in ara mātua is a small, practical, achievable action for parents and whānau. Even by only focusing on one or two at a visit, over time whānau can slowly and surely build their own capabilities.

The purpose of ara mātua for whānau is to:

  • identify relevant activities to share with their child, appropriate to their child’s age and stage
  • create goals and address any identified needs that will further support them in their parenting
  • reflect on their achievements and use as a pathway of goals for ‘where to next?’
  • consider other siblings’ developmental progress as well.

The purpose of ara mātua for kaimahi is to:

  • help them address issues, concerns or risks for whānau in a kind and nurturing way, using this resource as a practical encouragement
  • use as a starting place for a courageous conversation
  • use as a vehicle for highlighting strengths and giving positive feedback
  • help document negotiated goals for a child family plan
  • review whānau progress over a period of time
  • create a child safety plan when whānau need additional support.