Frequently Asked Questions
General Overview Questions
The Incredible Years Series offers a variety of group based programs that fall into three main categories: programs serving parents, programs serving children, and programs serving teachers. Depending on the populations your agency anticipates serving, you may want to implement one or more of the programs. Please see the information below to learn which programs are the right match for your agency and the population you serve.
- Incredible Years Baby and Toddler programs are designed for use with parents of children ages 0-3 years. The Baby program is a specific protocol for parents and babies ages 0-12 months, and the Toddler program covers protocols for parents of toddlers 1-3 years. The Baby and Toddler curricula may be purchased together or separately.
- Incredible Years Well-Baby program can be implemented in a pediatric or home health visitor setting during the first 9 months of a baby’s life.
- Incredible Years Preschool Basic program is used with parents of children ages 3-6 years old.
- Incredible Years School Age Basic program services parents of children 6-12 years old. There is a 6-8 year-old protocol and a 9-12 year-old protocol.
- Incredible Years School Readiness program is for use with parents of preschoolers ages 3-5 years.
- Incredible Years Advanced program may be offered to parents of children ages 4-12 years old who have already participated in a Basic series parent group (either the preschool or school age basic).
- Incredible Years Attentive Parenting program is a “universal” program for parents of children 2-6 years old. There is a 2-4 year-old protocol and a 5-6 year-old protocol.
- Incredible Years Autism Spectrum and Language Delays program for parents of children ages 2-5 years old on the Autism Spectrum or with language delays.
- The Classroom Dinosaur Curriculum is a prevention program designed for use by teachers and other adults working with students or other groups of children ranging from ages 3-8 years old. The program includes lessons for three “levels” that teachers will choose from in order to deliver developmentally appropriate lessons.
- The Small Group Dinosaur Therapy Curriculum is a treatment program formulated for use by therapists working with children ages 4-8 years old with mental health problems including Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, and internalizing problems.
- The Teacher Classroom Management Curriculum is designed to train teachers and other adults working with children ages 3-8 years old.
The program previews can be viewed on our website (in the program pages) as well as on our YouTube channel. For a small fee covering shipping and handling we can send you a preview DVD for either the parent, child or teacher programs.
Incredible Years programs have been delivered to multi-cultural groups in the USA, Canada, and UK. Research showing comparable results and positive outcomes with Asian, Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian groups can be found on our website. The programs have also been evaluated by researchers working with Maori tribes in New Zealand, and Korean and Native Americans in USA. The Incredible Years programs have been delivered in many countries including Russia, Turkey, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Holland. The Incredible Years programs are designed to promote cultural diversity and to be delivered in a collaborative way with parents and teachers. The focus is ensuring participants achieve their own goals within their own culture. An article describing ways the programs can be delivered with cultural relevance may be found on the web site.
For over 30 years, numerous randomized control group studies have been conducted on the programs by the developer and also by independent researchers in several different countries. These studies can be viewed in our Research Library.
*Of note is a recent publication showing a 10-year follow up of families of children with conduct problems who were treated with the parent program. Two-thirds of the children were in the normal range on standardized measures and none were in jail or detention. 23% had engaged in major delinquent acts, 46% reported some drug use, and 18% had some criminal justice involvement. Factors predicting negative outcomes in adolescence (delinquent acts) were immediate post treatment levels of observed mother-child coercion. This suggests continuing treatment until coercion is reduced sufficiently.
Group leaders of the Parenting Training programs and the Small Group Therapy Dinosaur Treatment program may come from a variety of helping professions such as: social work, cognitive psychology, nursing, medicine and education.
At least one course in child development and training in social learning theory is recommended. At least one of the two leaders conducting a group should have a Masters degree or higher, or a comparable educational background.
We recommend this in order to ensure group leaders have the necessary background to identify when children or parents require additional services. Group leaders with a masters level education and higher will be more likely to have the therapeutic skills needed to assess and manage parents and children with mental health problems.
For the Teacher Classroom Management training program, the group leaders may be experienced teachers, school psychologists, principals, or social workers with school-related experience.
Group leaders who become certified in the parent program are often good candidates for leading teacher groups. Since it is recommended that the Teacher Classroom Management workshops be facilitated by two leaders, an ideal combination might be a leader who is a school psychologist alongside a leader who is a teacher or principal.
The Classroom Dinosaur prevention program is delivered by preschool or primary school teachers with a bachelor’s degree at minimum.
The certification process for group leaders working with any of the IY programs requires submission of session or lesson protocols, evaluations, DVD recorded sessions for review, and paperwork to support the application. The emphasis on the DVD review of the group leader’s program sessions assures that the quality of program delivery is measured by observations of performance. In other words, the certification is based on competent skills, rather than educational background per se.
NOTE: A Masters degree or comparable higher degree is required to progress from a certified group leader to coach; a Masters degree is required for progression to mentor status after completion of the peer coach certification/accreditation. Both require nomination to the training.
Please see: Certification Training Progression
Parent Program Training
Baby Parent Group Leader 2-day Training. This 2-day training is for group leaders seeking training in the Baby program.
Basic Parent Group Leader 3-day Training. The Basic Parent Group Leader covers the 2-8 age range. The training equips group leaders to lead 3 different protocols: Toddler, Preschool Basic, and early years portion of the School Age parent programs (for parents of children ages 6-8 years old).
School Age Basic Group Leader 3-day Training. This workshop trains group leaders in implementation of the full School Age Program. It covers both the early school age protocol (6-8 years) and the pre-adolescent protocol (9-12 years).
School Age Add-On Training Day. A 1- to 2-day add-on training day is available for leaders who have already received the BASIC parent training and are seeking training in the pre-adolescent protocol of the School Age program (for parents of children ages 9-12 years old).
Advanced Parent Group Leader 2-day Training. The Advanced training is offered once group leaders have become comfortable with the Basic program methods. It is required that participants in the Advanced training have already received the 3-day Basic training. Participants in this workshop have ideally completed the accreditation/certification process for the Basic program(s).
Autism Spectrum/Language Delays Parent Group Leader 2-day Training. This training covers in depth the Autism Spectrum and Language Delays Parenting Program. It is required that participants in this training have already received the 3-day Basic training.
Attentive Parenting Group Leader 2-day Training. The Attentive Parenting training covers in depth the Attentive Parenting Program, which is designed to promote positive parenting strategies to parents of children ages 2-6 years old. It is required that participants in the Attentive Parenting training have already received the 3-day Basic training.
Home-based Coaching 1- to 2-day Training. This training is available for group leaders who have already completed the Basic program training.
Teacher or Child Program Training
Teacher Classroom Management Group Leader 3-day Training. This 3-day workshop trains group leaders to deliver the TCM curriculum to teachers and/or adults working with groups of children. (The group leaders then deliver the curriculum to the teachers throughout 6 full day monthly workshops.)
Classroom Dinosaur Curriculum Group Leader 3-day Training. This 3-day training equips teachers to implement the Classroom Dinosaur Prevention Curriculum in the classroom to all students 3-8 years old.
Small Group Dinosaur 3-day Training. The Small Group Dinosaur training is for therapists and counselors seeking training in implementing the Small Group Dinosaur Therapy treatment version of the Dina Dinosaur curriculum for children ages 4–8 years with behavior problems.
Training is not required, but is highly recommended.
Most people find that they are able to deliver the program more effectively if they have the training first. The training and certification/accreditation process helps leaders deliver with fidelity to the program and achieve results similar to those shown in the numerous research studies conducted on the programs.
Additionally, training by a certified mentor or trainer is the first required step if you plan to become certified/accredited as a group leader.
If you hope to conduct any research projects using The Incredible Years programs, group leader certification is required.
Seattle Workshops – Parent, teacher and child program workshops are offered regularly in Seattle, and by request elsewhere in the world. Check out our current list of workshops for current listings.
The training costs depends on which training you attend and where it is located.
Seattle Registration Fees
3-day (21 hours) parent, teacher or child training is $550
2-day trainings (Baby, Advance, Attentive Parenting) are $425
1-day update or consultation day is $250
Transportation, hotel, and per diem are the responsibility of the participants. Seattle parent workshops are scheduled 4-6 times a year and the child and teacher workshops are scheduled according to interest. Program materials are purchased separately and are not included in the registration fee.
Please email us at email@example.com to express interest in a particular training.
Workshops Elsewhere – If an agency wants at least 15 of their clinicians to be trained, they may contract with us to host a workshop at their site. In the event that these contracting agencies have additional spaces for participants outside of their own staff, the price of attending the workshop will be determined by that hosting agency. To allow for everyone to actively participate and interact with each other and the trainer, there is a maximum of 25 participants allowed. If you are scheduling a training at your own agency, please do so 6-9 months in advance of your preferred time frame, as trainer availability varies. See Hosting a Workshop for more information.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be notified if a training spot becomes available in your geographic area. Please see the Workshop Information section of the site for more information.
If you have at least 15 people seeking training in your agency, it is generally more cost effective to contract with us to send a trainer to your site.
Please send us an e-mail with an official request for the type of training you are pursuing.
While we will try to accommodate your desired dates, please understand that our training schedule fills up quickly. Most training dates need to be arranged at least 6 to 9 months ahead of time, so please be sure to plan in advance.
The cost to have a trainer at your site is $1,500 – $2000 per day, depending on your location or which trainer or mentor is sent. Additionally, there is a travel day charge to some locations, and your agency reimburses the trainer’s airfare, baggage charge, lodging, ground travel, and meals. See Hosting a Workshop for more details.
If you are waiting to attend a training, it is highly recommended that you begin the self-study protocol to learn this program. Self-study involves reviewing the leader’s manual for whichever program you are learning, reading the accompanying parent or teacher book, and viewing the DVD vignettes you will be showing to the parents, teachers, or children.
You are also encouraged to watch the “experts in action” DVDs which show some of our certified group leaders and trainers delivering the program. (These are purchased separately, but you receive a discount when purchasing with the full program set.)
See the Implementation section for more helpful information. Doing this self-study before attending the training will allow you to get more from the training itself because you will already have a handle on the specific areas you have questions about. In some cases, where practitioners have had a lot of prior experiences with group work, they may pilot the program before attending the training workshop. Regardless of experience, we find that the trainings help prepare all levels of group leaders in delivering the IY program, because of the highly experiential nature of the trainings. The learning strategies used during the training workshops model the group delivery processes and methods that participants will use when delivering the program to their own groups. While the content of the IY programs is described with detail in the manuals and books, the therapeutic process of delivery is hard to gain from the manual without this experiential component.
We do not have a traditional train the trainer model. Authorized training in the IY programs may only be offered by certified mentors or trainers. Mentors and trainers are first certified as group leaders in a particular program and have had extensive personal experience delivering the program first hand. After certification they have completed rigorous additional training in coaching, supervision and workshop delivery skills. They have been certified/accredited by the Incredible Years as “mentors” to offer authorized group leader trainings. The Incredible Years recommends that agencies plan for development of both coaches and mentors in-house as a method for future sustainability of their programs and ongoing support and training when there is turn over of staff.
It is recommended that there are 2 leaders for each parent or child group or teacher workshop, and that agencies train a minimum of 2 leaders in the program they plan to implement. In order to interest others and help familiarize them with the program, trained group leaders may invite other people in their agency to shadow them as they deliver the program, however, it must be made clear that this is not a substitute for an authorized training. Moreover, if a group leader hopes to be eligible for ‘certification’ in one of the Incredible Years programs (which we highly recommend) they first must receive training from a certified mentor or trainer. If a group leader is interested in teaching others at their agency to use the program, we suggest they begin by pursuing their own group leader certification in order to gain eligibility to apply for coach and mentor status. All the requirements for group leader certification and for coach and mentor status can be found in the certification section of this website.
Separate consultation days are designed for therapists and group leaders who have already received a 3-day “authorized training” in the parent, teacher or child program and have conducted at least one parent and child group or set of teacher training workshops. Consultation day participants are asked to bring a DVD recording of one of their parent, teacher or child group sessions. Participants select a short segment for presentation in order to demonstrate both video clips they feel will benefit others, as well as ones to present for feedback on aspects of group dynamics they found difficult to manage. Participants showing these DVDs have the opportunity to receive feedback and supervision on group therapy or their workshop delivery issues, particular family dynamics or specific child developmental, behavioral or learning issues they have encountered in their groups. Participants partake in role-play practices, buzzes and problem solving discussions as they view video clips together.
Once an agency has hosted their first training workshop, it is advisable to schedule a follow-up consultancy day with an accredited IY mentor or trainer within a year. These workshops help group leaders continue their peer supervision and provide the support needed to complete their certification process. The IY mentor or trainer gives detailed feedback and direction regarding specific issues relevant to participants. You may submit a request to schedule a consultation day specific to the Incredible Years Program you are implementing by emailing us. Remember to plan ahead, as our training schedule fills up quickly. Consultation days are also offered in Seattle and are scheduled by interest. Please email us at email@example.com to express interest in a particular consultation day.
Trainings (particularly in the parent programs) are regularly offered by certified mentors throughout UK. There are currently 17 certified/accredited mentors in the UK. Mentors are able to train and provide coaching to other group leaders within their defined district. UK is currently developing a number of IY coaches within individual agencies. Coaches are experienced group leaders who have been certified/accredited in the program who provide individual support to new group leaders within their agencies. They have received additional training in the coaching process. They do not offer authorized workshops but can be very helpful in assisting group leaders to become certified.
Norway has 14 accredited mentors, Denmark and The Netherlands have 2 each, Canada has 3, USA has 16, Wales has 3, New Zealand has 3, Portugal has 2, Australia has 1 and Russia has 1. A few other countries have certified group leaders moving towards coach status with the plans to develop mentors. These countries include The Netherlands, Portugal, and Finland.
Shipment of materials usually occurs 7 to 10 business days from the day we receive your order. Your receipt of the materials depends on your location. We ship via UPS; please see their website for estimated times in transit. Generally, shipments to areas closest to the West Coast of the U.S. will take 1 to 3 days, and shipments to the East Coast will take 5 to 7 days. Overseas shipments are sent via UPS Expedited service (air), or by USPS airmail and typically require 7 to 14 days in transit. Our handmade child puppets are frequently on backorder; please plan ahead when ordering puppets.
We accept payment by check for prepaid orders, or we can invoice you with an institutional purchase order number, with terms being “payment due upon receipt.” Subsequent payments should be made by checks made out to the Incredible Years, Inc. All payments should be in US Dollars. International customers may also make payments by wire transfer, international money order, or banker’s draft. Please email for details. Unfortunately, we are not equipped to process credit card payments.
Shipping charges vary according to the total price of your order. There is a shipping chart at the end of the price list. Please note that shipping costs for orders that include bulk books will be priced separately. Due to the extra weight of books, an additional shipping charge will be added to your invoice according to the quantity. Please contact us if you require an exact quote. If you are ordering from overseas or Canada, there will be an extra tax charged to you by the government upon delivery, for your country’s customs charges.
Incredible Years programs and all other support materials may only be purchased from the Incredible Years Inc. in Seattle. There are currently no plans to move sales to any other distributor.
We offer a number of discounts when you order bulk books, designated packages of multiple programs, or several copies of the same program. Please contact us for details on discounting. Please note that bulk books and multiple program packages are discounted by individual order and will be reflected on the particular order’s invoice. Discounts on multiple copies of the same program are cumulative for numerous orders placed over time within your agency. Our office will keep record of your agency’s purchases and automatically include these discounts on your invoice when applicable.
Each program includes a set of core materials specific to the program. To see what is included when you order a particular program please visit the Programs section. Supplementary books, posters and magnets are the most common additions to the program packages. Magnets serve as economical and fun prizes for each parent, teacher or child to hold weekly refrigerator notes or homework assignments, and we highly recommend providing books to each group participant. In addition to the materials included in the program packages we also have a number of helpful resources that can be purchased separately. Please see the Supplemental Materials information for each program, in the Programs section of this site.
As there are homework and reading assignments in the teacher and parent book, it is strongly recommended that each participant be provided with a book while they are enrolled in a parent/teacher group. If your agency is unable to provide books free of charge you may ask participants to buy them from you, or return them at the conclusion of the program. The first ten chapters of The Incredible Years: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2 – 8 is available in Spanish, as well as on audio CD in both English and Spanish. Each program set includes a basic set of materials including one copy of the corresponding book (parent programs receive The Incredible Years: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2 – 8 while child and teacher programs receive Incredible Teachers: Nurturing Children’s Social, Emotional and Academic Competence). The Preschool Basic Program and the Small Group and Classroom Dinosaur curricula also receive one set of four Wally’s Detective books. For a complete list of all the materials included in each program, please see the Programs section of the site. Additional copies of the books are available for purchase, and may receive bulk order discounts. Please see the Purchase section of the site.
Yes, if you have purchased the full program materials set. We provide you with a starter set of 25 copies in the form of colored-paper tear-off pads. After your first group, leaders may use the masters provided in the leader’s guide to make copies for subsequent groups. You may also access the masters in the Resources for Group Leaders section of the site. Please note that these are copyrighted materials, solely for use with your program delivery and not for publication elsewhere.
Each curriculum comes with one leader’s manual. You may purchase additional copies of the leader’s manual if you have already purchased a full set of the program. To purchase extra leader’s manuals, please either write it in on the order form or send us an e-mail with your request. Cost is between $80-$225, depending on the program. Contact us for the specific price you need.
We typically do not sell the DVD sets separately from the full program. This is to help maintain program fidelity, to ensure the leaders have all the tools needed to deliver successfully. Please keep in mind the DVDs are considered “the program” so the purchase of an additional set expands your capacity to deliver the program. We do have a courtesy replacement disc price. Please contact us if you lose one of your discs or if it is scratched/broken.
Group Leading and Process
Providing childcare during parent groups is fundamental to assuring parental attendance and the success of parents in completing the program. It is important to offer high quality childcare and for your childcare providers to model the skills leaders are teaching the parents during groups. We recommend training your childcare providers with the same DVDs that group leaders show during the parent sessions. If the group is for parents of children ages 4-8 years old, we suggest combining those age groups for childcare. If there will be siblings attending as well, especially if they include infants, you will need a much higher ratio of supervision. Often in schools, teachers will agree to provide childcare. In some schools we have had parents who participated in our parent training groups during a previous year help with the child care in a subsequent year.
It is recommended that the Dinosaur Curriculum eventually be integrated into the childcare provided during parent groups, especially if this is a treatment model. IY research has shown that the addition of the Dina Dinosaur Small Group Therapy Treatment program alongside an IY Parent Program contributes to enhanced outcomes for children, including improved peer social skills, problem-solving and classroom behavior. It is therefore advisable to simultaneously offer the Dina Small Group Therapy Intervention program if the children of the attending parents are experiencing difficulties at school as well as a home. Ideally teachers of such children will also receive the IY Teacher Classroom Management program.
There are two models and delivery protocols for parent programs: indicated and selective prevention and treatment. Generally the prevention model is shorter than the treatment model. The prevention model for the Preschool Basic parent program recommends a minimum duration of 14 weeks and has been researched with high risk, socioeconomically disadvantaged families. It is not recommended that the Preschool Basic or School Age Basic prevention programs be offered in less than 14 sessions for the prevention model. Groups with translators usually require at least 18 sessions to complete the prevention version.
The Attentive Parenting Program was designed as a universal intervention for non-high risk populations, or as a supplement to the Preschool Basic program. It takes 6-8 weeks to complete the program.
The School Readiness program was designed as a universal intervention for non high risk populations. It takes 4-6 weeks to complete and can be offered by teachers to parents in schools.
The treatment models of the Preschool and School Age Basic programs vary from 18-24 sessions and often include the Advanced Program giving attention to family interpersonal issues, anger and depression management, communication skills, adult problem solving (between parents and with teachers), and family meetings. Additionally, there are protocols for recommended DVD vignettes for children diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder or ADHD.
There is a universal classroom prevention model which includes teacher classroom management training as well as delivery of the Classroom Dinosaur Curriculum. It is recommended that preschool and Head Start teachers complete the teacher classroom management program before doing the Classroom Dinosaur Curriculum.
For the treatment model, it is recommended that the child small group model and the teacher classroom management programs are combined along side the parent program for the most sustainable outcomes.
If you are offering the program as a prevention program in a school setting, we recommend that you develop a brochure newsletter and/or a poster that explains the objectives of the programs, who can participate and how families can sign up for it. In a clinic setting a brochure explaining the programs, cost, and admission criteria will be helpful. You may use the information and sample brochures and invitations from our website (in the Resources for Group Leaders section) in developing your own materials to distribute among your target group. If you would like to include any of our graphics please contact us for approval. We do not recommend listing our website on parent recruitment materials (to reduce confusion of who should be contacted so parents can join the group).
It is important that groups are not comprised of parents of children ages ranging from 0-12 years. Separate groups should be recruited for the baby program (babies 6 months or younger at first meeting), toddler program (ages 1-2 years), preschool program (3-6 years), early school age (6-8 years) and preadolescence (9-12 years). Each of these programs focuses on the major developmental tasks of these specific age groups and helps parents learn about normal development and to have age appropriate expectations and discipline strategies. While families will have other children of different ages and group leaders will help them learn strategies for these children as well, the main focus of the training is on one specified age range. Combining strategies for older children with younger children can be confusing for parents and they may start to mix up strategies in developmentally inappropriate ways. In order to assure the soundest learning, it strongly recommended that the training remain more focused on one developmental age and not become too complex.
We do not disqualify parents with mental health problems. In fact many parents with children with behavior problems are experiencing depression, stress, isolation and marital conflict. Research on this program indicates that treatment outcomes show reduced stress levels and depression and improved confidence and marital satisfaction. For families with drug abuse problems or severe depression it is recommended they also receive treatment for this problem in addition to their parenting intervention.
We select families for specific groups primarily on the age of the target child. This means that all families have a child in the age range that is appropriate for the program being shown, i.e., those with toddlers are in the toddler group, or those with 9-12 year olds are in the presadolescent group. Children in the treatment programs may have a variety of problems including depression, anxiety, aggression, phobias, and developmental delays. Research with this program has shown significant improvements in internalizing problems as well as externalizing problems.
Children with both externalizing and internalizing problems are included in these small groups together. In fact, most children with behavior problems are comorbid for several disorders. About 50% of children with conduct problems will also have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 30% will have depression symptoms and many will have Attachment Disorder. About 1/3 of children with ADHD will also have language and developmental delays. When comprising a group try to do the following:
1. Keep your group to no more than 6 children.
2. Have at least 2 girls in every group. There are usually 3-4 boys for every girl in the 3-8 year age range.
3. Mix children with different ages; remember it is not chronological age that is important but developmental level. It is a good idea to try to have 2-3 children with developmental ages of 6-8 years and 2-3 children with developmental ages of 4-5 years. Children with more language skills will help model for younger children or children with language delays.
4. Mix children with different diagnoses. It is prudent not to have a group of 6 children with ADHD together if possible. It is helpful to have some less active children who can serve as models for waiting and listening.
5. If feasible in a school setting, include in the break out groups a few children who are leaders, popular and have good social skills. These children can act as coaches and help model and demonstrate appropriate behaviors for the other children. Often they form friendships with these children which helps change their reputation in the classroom.
We recommend the program to parents and/or children (ages 0-12 years) if their children meet the DSM IV criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or if they fall in the borderline or clinical range for behavior problems on standardized measures such as the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist or the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory. Otherwise, we have very few exclusion criteria, beyond limiting groups to parents of children in similar developmental stages and ages as discussed above. (Information about assessment tools may be found in our research papers.) We also offer the parent and child program to parents referred by child welfare services for child abuse and neglect. We combine single parents, couples, mothers, fathers and parents of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, as well as mandated and volunteer families in the same groups to provide a rich mix of perspectives on parenting.
It is recommended that an extensive parent interview be conducted in the clinic or, for high-risk parents, in the home. These interviews help group leaders gain information about parents’ parenting perspectives, childhood experiences, current family stressors (e.g., depression, marital stress, family issues) as well as their approaches to managing their child’s problems to date. These interviews in turn establish a one-to-one relationship prior to starting the group and aid group leaders in understanding parents’ needs and goals. From these interviews clinicians may become aware of potential barriers to parents attending groups such as lack of transportation, childcare needs, unsupportive partners and so forth. Moreover, this first home interview will likely contribute to parental attendance at the first sessions.
We have adapted the Small Group Dinosaur Treatment Curriculum for use as a prevention program in the classroom with all children. This Classroom Dinosaur prevention program is delivered 2-3 times a week during a 15-20 minute circle time followed by a 20-minute small group (6-8 per group) practice activity. There are more than 60 lesson plans, as well as lessons spanning a second and third year of delivery of the program.
If resources permit we recommend that the parent program be offered to all parents in a school setting in order not to stigmatize parents with children who are more difficult to manage. This builds a supportive school community where parents understand each others situations and learn to help one another. Prior to starting groups, a brief assessment of the child’s social competence can be completed by each child’s teacher and parents using a standardized measure (with normative data). These assessments can be repeated at the conclusion of the group so that leaders, teachers, and parents can see their improvements (see Resources section for measures).
If resources prohibit a universal intervention, parents and children may be selected for the parent and/or child groups based on teacher and parent reports using standardized measures as well as by targeting those children who exhibit externalizing and internalizing behavior in the borderline and clinical range. The “pull out” small group treatment version of the Dinosaur Curriculum can be offered in the school by 2 school counselors and is typically offered twice a week for 1 hour with groups of 4-6 children. We also recommend that groups include children who are highly competent who can befriend struggling children and help model some of the desired social skills.
Carolyn Webster-Stratton’s Answer:
The IY evidence-based parent and child programs have been used and evaluated for decades as treatment for children diagnosed with conduct problems, oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD (A T. A. Menting, B. Orobio de Castro, & W. Matthys, 2013; Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2017; Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Beauchaine, 2013). In addition these programs have been evaluated as selective and indicated prevention interventions for high risk, economically disadvantaged families, foster parents, and families referred because of abuse and neglect (Webster-Stratton, 1998; Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2011; Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Hammond, 2001) and even for incarcerated parents (A.T.A. Menting, B. Orobio de Castro, & W. Matthys, 2013b). Within these populations are families whose children’s behavioral problems are a manifestation of their emotional and psychological difficulties because of single or multiple traumatic family life experiences. Multiple randomized control group studies have indicated the success of the IY parent programs in promoting more responsive and nurturing parent-child interactions, reducing child externalizing and internalizing problems and promoting positive child social competence and emotional regulation (A.T.A. Menting, B. Orobio de Castro, & W. Matthys, 2013a).
IY Parent Programs
The “trauma informed” IY parent basic program begins with parents learning ways to build a sensitive, responsive, nurturing relationship with their children through child-directed play. Parents learn the importance of using emotion coaching with their children to build their children’s emotional literacy and capacity to communicate about their feelings and problems. Throughout the program, parents are helped to understand the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for themselves as well as their children. In addition to learning developmentally appropriate parenting skills, IY parent programs, especially the treatment protocol which includes the IY Advance parenting program (Webster-Stratton, 1994) help parents to regulate their own emotions and affect, improve their positive communication and listening skills, and how to build support networks in their communities. These goals are achieved using strategies such as challenging self-negative talk, modifying inaccurate thoughts and guilt or shame about trauma, using deep breathing, relaxation methods, positive imagery and the importance of self-care. Building support networks is integral to the group-based approach to delivering the IY programs.
The group-based parent program is designed to have therapists work collaboratively with each family in the group to address the life-context, child presenting problems, family situation, and culture. Please see parent therapist book for further information about the collaborative therapeutic process (Webster-Stratton, 2012). Therapists help families set realistic short term and long term goals based on their particular situation. So for these families where children (or parents) have experienced trauma, this would constitute a huge part of their life-context and would need to be addressed in every session as part of the tailoring group leaders do for each family. Parents are helped to understand the impact of trauma on their children’s emotional or behavioral problems, what situations trigger their misbehavior and how to help them feel safe and loved with consistent child-directed play that incorporates social and emotional coaching, praise and rewards, predictable routines, household rules, clear limit setting and teaching of self-regulation strategies. Parents are helped to understand the importance of not being either overly protective with their children or too permissive and are helped to appreciate their children’s strengths as well as to be aware of possible triggers for misbehavior and how to cope with them. Please see a chapter that talks about some of the ways that the material can be presented for children with attachment or neglect problems and families who are divorced or who have experienced loss.
This collaborative way of using the IY parent program can also apply to other types of trauma that children or families have experienced. So, all the information that the therapist has about each family would influence the way that the program is delivered throughout each session. Therapists working with these families in the parent group start from the life-context that these families are living with and their goals and then help parents apply each of the new skills and principles to their own unique situations. In the chapter referenced above you will see that much more time is spent on the foundation of the parenting pyramid in terms of building relationships, attachment, and parent-child bonding particularly in cases where those bonds are not strong to begin with. Parents in these groups share their own experiences of being parented (which often may have been abusive) and talk about how this has impacted their parenting choices with their own children. They also identify their goals for their relationships with their children and what parenting choices they want to make to achieve these goals.
With the context of prior trauma in mind, some topics (such as ignoring and Time Out) are sometimes delayed and extra sessions offered initially to establish more secure attachment and parent-child bonding. When the ignoring, Time Out and discipline strategies are eventually presented for child destructive behaviors that cannot be redirected or self-regulation methods prompted, discussion around these strategies focuses on how these strategies are meant to encourage child and parent self-regulation with the goal to use them briefly, respectfully and non-punitively without jeopardizing the child’s sense of safety. Following a planned ignore or Time Out to calm down experience, parents then reunite with their child in a positive way to provide their child with new learning opportunities to use other solutions to the problem situation (such as communication about feelings, or getting help, or walking away, or finding a friend or safe person to talk to). For families where there is a history of trauma discussion time is spent talking about the difference between the positive use of these strategies and punitive or neglectful parenting behaviors. When used thoughtfully, patiently and calmly, these strategies are important skills for all parents to learn as part of non-violent, proactive and positive discipline.
It is also important for parents to assess and understand by means of a functional analyses whether their child’s misbehavior stems from needs for parental attention which the child can’t get consistently and regularly with positive behaviors, or whether the child’s misbehavior occurs because of prior modeling and the fact that s/he hasn’t been taught other more prosocial behaviors to get what s/he wants, or whether the child is acting out because of fear and insecurity in their relationship due to triggers of prior traumatic experiences of being abandoned, neglected or abused. The minimum number of sessions recommended for the parent treatment protocol based on our research is 2-hour weekly sessions for 18-20 weeks. However, with the added attention needed for trauma informed situations where more time is spent on parent interpersonal issues (e.g., depression, marital conflict, thoughts of guilt and shame), safety issues and relationship building as well as the added inclusion of the Advance program content, more sessions are often needed. In one study where the full advance program was combined with the basic parent program the average number of sessions was 24-26 sessions (Webster-Stratton, 1994).
Key Points about Delivering IY Parent Programs that are Trauma-informed
- Parents learn the importance of listening and supporting their children’s ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings by using child-directed play and emotional coaching methods
- Parents are encouraged to be aware of potential trauma triggers that can result in the child’s misbehavior and understand how to manage these responses
- Parents learn how to help their children self-regulate by modeling and teaching deep breathing methods, positive imagery, positive self-talk and how to ask for what they need in order to feel safe and loved
- Parents understand the importance of staying calm, patient and predictable in their responses to their children’s misbehaviors
- Parents learn the value of developing their own support networks through their group experience and IY weekly buddy assignments. This support helps them cope with the stress of managing their children’s trauma reactions
IY Small Group Treatment Programs
Similarly therapists delivering the child dinosaur small group treatment program with the help of large life-size puppets help children to learn and practice emotion language, to manage their anger, fears and depression through self-regulation strategies such as deep breathing, positive self-talk and positive imagery (happy places), to problem solve and to develop social skills in order to build supportive friendships (Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2005, 2008). Strategies in both the IY parent and child programs include cognitive, affective, and behavioral strategies which are also key elements in trauma-focused therapy. In essence, trauma-informed elements are woven throughout the IY parent and child programs. Frequently the child dinosaur program is offered alongside the parent program so that the language and methods used in the child program can be reinforced at home by the parents using similar strategies.
In the small group Dinosaur treatment program therapists using large life-size puppets develop scenarios (such as a trauma event) for the puppets that mirror some of the children’s problems. For example, one puppet might be living with his grandmother or is in foster care because his mother is unable to care for him safely. This puppet talks to the children about what s/he does to stay safe and who s/he can talk to feel loved and then asks the children for their ideas about what to do when s/he feels unsafe when she visiting her mother. Or, a puppet might talk about her worries when s/he hears her parents fighting and ask the children for help knowing what to do when this happens. Recently, in a school that experienced the death of one of the students, the therapist prepared a lesson on loss and grief. The puppet shared with the children his sad and confused feelings about the recent loss of his grandfather. This allowed the children to develop an emotional vocabulary for talking about grief and sadness when they lose someone, realize the normality of these feelings, and learn things to do to cope with these feelings and ways to keep the memory of a loved person going. While all the children learn emotion vocabulary and the basic steps of problem solving, anger management and self-regulation strategies, they are helped by therapists to practice these strategies by showing the puppet how s/he can talk about and solve his or her particular problems which are designed to mirror some of their own experiences. The children learn not only how to talk about traumatic experiences but also how to cope with them through positive self-talk, positive imagery, behavioral practices, methods to stay safe and making friends often times with children who have had similar experiences. In addition to the puppets modeling cognitive and emotional strategies, video vignettes are also used to show children talking about feelings, problem-solving and making friends. Group leaders also model these positive cognitive self-talk and emotion language. Please see a chapter for how the IY Child Social, Emotional and Problem Solving Curriculum prepares children to cope with trauma on our web site.
Using both the IY parent and child programs together offers promise for helping families who have experienced trauma develop supportive, nurturing relationships within a family that models developmentally appropriate parenting skills, emotional regulation, and effective problem solving. In turn, this leads to the development of children who feel safe, socially and emotionally competent and supported to cope with life’s challenges.
Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., & Deblinger, E. (2017). Treating Trauma and Traumatic Grief in Children and Adolescents. New York: The Guilford Press.
Menting, A. T. A., Orobio de Castro, B., & Matthys, W. (2013a). Effectiveness of the Incredible Years Parent Training to Modify Disruptive and Prosocial Child Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(8), 901-913.
Menting, A. T. A., Orobio de Castro, B., & Matthys, W. (2013). Effectiveness of the Incredible Years Parent Training to Modify Disruptive and Prosocial Child Behavior:A Meta-Analytic Review. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(8), 901-913.
Menting, A. T. A., Orobio de Castro, B., & Matthys, W. (2013b). A trial of parent training for mothers being released from incarceration and their children. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 43(3), 381-396.
Webster-Stratton, C. (1994). Advancing videotape parent training: A comparison study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62(3), 583-593.
Webster-Stratton, C. (1998). Preventing conduct problems in Head Start children: Strengthening parenting competencies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(5), 715-730.
Webster-Stratton, C. (2012). Collaborating with Parents to Reduce Children’s Behavior Problems:A Book for Therapists Using the Incredible Years Programs Seattle, WA Incredible Years Inc.
Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, J. (2017). The Incredible Years Parents, Teachers and Children Training Series: A Multifaceted Treatment Approach for Young Children with Conduct Problems In A. E. Kazdin & J. R. Weisz (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents, 3rd edition. New York Guildford Publications
Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2005). Treating conduct problems and strengthening social and emotional competence in young children: The Dina Dinosaur Treatment Program. In M. Epstein, K. Kutash, & A. J. Duchowski (Eds.), Outcomes for children and youth with emotional and behavioral disorders and their families: Programs and evaluation best practices (2nd ed., pp. 597-623). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed, Inc.
Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2008). Adapting the Incredible Years Child Dinosaur Social, Emotional and Problem Solving intervention to address co-morbid diagnoses. Journal of Children’s Services, 3(3), 17-30.
Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2011). The Incredible Years: Evidence-based parenting and child programs for families involved in the child welfare system. In A. Rubin (Ed.), Programs and interventions for maltreated children and families (pp. 10-32). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., & Beauchaine, T. P. (2013). One-Year Follow-Up of Combined Parent and Child Intervention for Young Children with ADHD. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 42(2), 251-261.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., & Hammond, M. (2001). Preventing conduct problems, promoting social competence: A parent and teacher training partnership in Head Start. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30(3), 283-302.
It is not possible to reduce the core baseline dosage of intervention without compromising the fidelity of the program delivery and its effectiveness. This would be akin to reducing your doctor’s prescription of ampicillin for your ear infection to half the dose. It takes 14-16 weeks to complete the Preschool Basic prevention parent program, and even longer if one is working with high-risk families, child welfare referred families or those parents with diagnosed children. The delivery of the program in 10 weeks was evaluated in earlier studies during the 80’s and it was found that the content of the program could not be completed, nor was there time for parent practices, a key to learning new ways of interacting. Parents have consistently evaluated the program as not being long enough. What’s more, when using a 10-week model of the program there is a danger of concluding with the Time Out section and having insufficient time to discuss other discipline approaches and the integration of all the strategies that have been learned over the sessions. This final integration is important for parents to understand how to determine which parenting strategy is appropriate for particular behavior problems. A recent comparison of the 10-week program with the 20-week program showed that the effect sizes were significantly greater for the longer program and that the 20-week program also had significantly improved outcomes in child problem solving and consumer satisfaction evaluations.
It is also interesting to note that one of our treatment studies showed that the combination of the Advanced program and the Basic program into a 22-24-week parent intervention was more effective for parents than the Basic program alone. The broader focus including communication, problem-solving, anger and depression management resulted in significantly improved outcomes for children in terms of problem-solving skills.
For children with conduct problems, the Small Group Dinosaur program has only been evaluated using the 18 – 22 session model. We do not recommend any fewer than 18-20 weekly sessions because there is no evidence regarding the effectiveness of a shorter program. In another treatment study we compared the 20-22 week parent program with the combined parent plus child program and found that adding the child component significantly improved outcomes in terms of child peer interactions and classroom behaviors compared with parent only condition.
In summary, in order to bring about sustained change in parent interactions, it is necessary to have time for parents to new learn concepts about child development, to practice new behaviors and get feedback, and to develop trusting relationships with other families and group leaders. This change will be particularly difficult for those parents who are trying to parent differently from the way they were parented. In order to prevent the intergenerational transmission of child abuse and neglect it is necessary to provide parents with substantial support, adequate scaffolding and sufficient time to solidify their new thoughts, behaviors and feelings. What’s more, it is likely that this parental support and structure will be required throughout all their children’s major developmental phases. Please read the Fidelity Delivery of the Incredible Years Programs FAQ for more information:Questions About Fidelity and Delivery of the Incredible Years Programs
Some of the Incredible Years (IY) Program vignettes seem outdated, can we omit them or change them out for something else? If we do that are we delivering the program with fidelity?
Because the IY Parent and Teacher programs are evidenced based programs, doing the programs with fidelity to the model is very important in terms of assuring that agencies get outcomes similar to the positive change outcomes that have been found in multiple research studies around the world (Leijten, Raaijmakers, Orobio de Castro, Ban, & Matthys, 2015; Menting, Orobio de Castro, & Matthys, 2013; Pidano & Allen, 2015). Most agencies and countries that choose IY programs do so because of this strong evidence base. This also means that any significant changes to the program content and methods can diminish the program’s effectiveness. Research has indicated that program effectiveness is reduced when the recommended program dosage is cut back, core vignettes are eliminated, and content changed. Reductions in fidelity to the program also occur when therapists and group leaders mediate the vignettes in ways that fail to make them relevant for the particular parents’ and teachers’ individual situations including behavior management knowledge level, or children’s development and diagnoses.
We do not recommend leaving out core video vignettes because the clothing or hairstyles seem outdated, or the setting of the homes or classrooms doesn’t match the group participants’ environment. However, it is important for trained group leaders to pay attention to the ways that group participants are responding to the vignettes. We have found that when parents or teachers are not responding positively to the vignettes, there are many things that group leaders can do to make the vignettes more relevant to the group. For example, a vignette that seems corny or old fashioned can be one that the parents or teachers laugh at, roll their eyes, but then have a passionate and productive discussion as they explore what is appropriate for their current situation. It’s usually the case that the way the vignette is presented by the group leader has a large impact on how parents and teachers receive the vignette and what they get out of the vignette. It is not the intention that parents or teachers copy video vignettes verbatim, rather it is important that the vignettes are used to trigger discussions, to pull out the key “principles,” and to set up role play practices that represent the issues they are facing at home or at school. The skilled group leader will help group participants discover these timeless and evidence-based management and relationship building principles and learn how to apply them to their particular goals, situations, and their children’s unique developmental needs(Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Marsenich, 2014).
It is typical for newer group leaders to find that participants rate the videos lower than leader skills or participant involvement on their session evaluations. It is often easier and less personal for participants to rate vignettes lower than something more personal such as the leader skills or their own or peer involvement. However, with time, as group leaders get consultation around how to effectively mediate the vignettes, learn ways to present the vignettes to make them relevant to participants’ goals, those issues diminish with time.
Why both old and new vignettes?
Several years ago when we updated the video vignettes for the third time, many certified group leaders wanted to make sure we didn’t eliminate some of the old classic vignettes. Regardless of outdated dress code, they found that these vignettes still evoked a strong participant response and modeled an important principle. Moreover, as these vignettes are non rehearsed, unscripted scenarios, it would be impossible to replicate many of these amazing parent or teacher-child interactions with updated clothing and settings. Therefore, we have continued to incorporate some vignettes that were filmed many years ago. If you have the latest updated versions of the IY programs, you will also see that there are newer vignettes interspersed with these older vignettes, so there is variety in the type of vignettes that group leaders are showing.
It’s a complicated process to update a program that is empirically validated because years of research using the original vignettes provide the evidence base that the program works. If we were to take out all the old vignettes, then the program is substantially different than the original program and we cannot guarantee that it would get the same good results. Clothing, hair styles, and video technology changes rapidly, but many of the older, original vignettes have been left in because of the kinds of conversations we have found that they can stimulate between group participants, and because they teach important principles about building relationships, managing behavior problems and promoting children’s optimal social and emotional development. In our updated programs we have also added newer vignettes to represent families from different cultural backgrounds, different parent-child interactions such as grocery shopping, bedtime and separation routines, talking to children about calming down and newer ideas. New vignettes have been added based on content and interactions that parents have requested having more examples to view.
Finally, it is important for group leaders to know that while there are some core vignettes that should be shown in all groups, there is also flexibility about some of the vignette choices, so group leaders can review the vignettes and choose vignettes that seem most relevant for their families. Moreover, some parents and teachers will need to see more vignettes and examples of strategies than others depending on their educational and knowledge level or their cultural background and how new or different the content is for them.
How to these video vignettes work across different cultural groups and languages?
For over 30 years we have evaluated our IY programs in the US with multiple ethnic groups including Latino, Asian, Native-American, and African-American families in addition to Caucasian families(Reid, Webster-Stratton, & Beauchaine, 2001). In addition, we have had program research replications of many of the IY programs by independent researchers in countries such as England, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Scotland, and Wales. The programs have also been used with success in Russia, Turkey, and West Bank and with the Maori people in New Zealand. Current research is taking place in Estonia and Slovenia.
Outcomes have indicated success with the programs regardless of cultural or educational background(Gardner, Montgomery, & Knerr, 2015) (Gardner, Hutchings, & Bywater, 2010). For countries where English is not the dominant language, translations have been carried out for subtitling the DVDs, for participant handouts and in some cases for the participant books and leader’s manuals. These translations have been carefully done with IY mentors reviewing them to make sure they are translated with accurate meaning and adhere to IY program philosophy. While IY has considered making individualized video programs for each cultural group or country, after a review of the research results, it was decided that with the multiplicity of cultural groups and languages within countries we could not manage a unique program for every country or culture or language. Rather, the advantages of promoting cultural diversity, mixing up cultural groups, discussing cultural differences and problem-solving solutions to common goals seem to outweigh the barriers.
Overall the objective is to develop programs that promote not only family, and school support systems to bring out the best in children but also through the group approach to promote community and world-wide support networks. Most often there are more commonalities in participant goals than differences across different cultural or ethnic or country groups. The advantages of helping families and teachers to appreciate and respect different perspectives and learn from each other out weighs the more insular approach. Globalization requires this understanding.
It is interesting that when we speak to group leaders from around the world we often hear that there is a particular issue that parents or teachers in their groups bring up as a cultural barrier. For example, “teachers in our country do not believe in praising students in this way.” Or “in our country parents would not play with children in this way.” While we understand that parenting and teaching practices to vary with culture, these are often the same comments that we hear from group leaders who are using the program in the United States. The more that group leaders from around the world learn to skillfully use the vignettes as a jumping off point for discussing how praise or play might look in their particular country or setting, the less resistance group leaders experience. It is very common that more experienced group leaders say: “When I first started leader, there was much more resistance to the vignettes then when I show them now.”
Why is consultation recommended after group leader training?
When certified IY trainers and mentors do consultations with IY group leaders, they spend considerable time role playing and practicing ways to present and mediate the vignettes that will reduce participant resistance, help parents and teachers engage with the vignettes and learn how the principles are relevant for their children or particular goals. IY headquarters in Seattle is happy to set up Skype call consultations or in-person consultations with certified mentors and trainers to work further with agencies or organizations regarding IY group delivery process. For Skype or in-person consultations what is most helpful is when groups leaders video their group sessions and select segments for review ~ such as parents or teachers showing resistance, or challenging a particular strategy shown on video vignettes. When certified IY mentors or trainers can see these video interactions and the concepts are being presented they can then brainstorm ideas about how to engage participants and make the vignettes feel more relevant to them. For in-person consultations mentors/trainers will help group leaders role play and act out alternative responses to participant resistance and ways to turn the strategy being modeled in the vignette into something participants can see as relevant for their situation.
How important is it that the IY group leaders have the program text?
We highly recommend that group leaders for the IY parent program have the program text called Collaborating with Parents to Reduce Behavior Problems: A Book for Therapists Using Incredible Years Programs. We also recommend that group leaders for IY teacher and child programs have the book Incredible Teachers: Nurturing Children’s Social, Emotional and Academic Competence. The parent book provides detailed information about the process of working with parents using the video vignettes effectively in a collaborative process that employs participant reflection and active participation in experiential learning. The teacher book provides many examples of how to tailor the strategies in the program to meet the unique needs of different classrooms, cultural contexts, and individual student issues. All program sets include one copy of the book and participants of Seattle workshops all receive a copy at the training. For agencies outside of Seattle who are conducting their workshops with IY mentors we recommend they also include these books for participants. We believe these texts will improve program delivery fidelity as they answer many of the questions that come up once group leaders begin their own groups.
The Incredible Years evidence-based program delivery is about more than the video vignette clips, following session protocols and recommended dosage but relies heavily on the skill and clinical judgment of the group facilitator or therapist to be delivered with fidelity including knowing how to make fidelity-based adjustments for particular populations.
Gardner, F., Hutchings, J., & Bywater, T. (2010). Who benefits and how does it work? Moderators and mediators of outcome in a randomized trial of parenting interventions in multiple ‘Sure Start’ services. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolsecent Psychology, 39, 1-13.
Gardner, F., Montgomery, P., & Knerr, W. (2015). Transporting Evidence-Based Parenting Programs for Child Problem Behavior (Age 3-10) Between Countries: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 53, 1-14.
Leijten, P., Raaijmakers, M. A. J., Orobio de Castro, B., Ban, E., & Matthys, W. (2015). Effectiveness of the Incredible Years Parenting Program for Families with Socioeconomically Disadvantaged and Ethnic Minority Backgrounds. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 0(0), 1-15.
Menting, A. T. A., Orobio de Castro, B., & Matthys, W. (2013). Effectiveness of the Incredible Years Parent Training to Modify Disruptive and Prosocial Child Behavior:A Meta-Analytic Review. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(8), 901-913.
Pidano, A. E., & Allen, A. R. (2015). The Incredible Years Series: A review of the independent research base. Journal of Child Family Studies, 24, 1898-1916.
Reid, M. J., Webster-Stratton, C., & Beauchaine, T. P. (2001). Parent training in Head Start: A comparison of program response among African American, Asian American, Caucasian, and Hispanic mothers. Prevention Science, 2(4), 209-227.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, J. M., & Marsenich, L. (2014). Improving Therapist Fidelity During Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices: Incredible Years Program. Psychiatric Services.
Our revised and updated Preschool and School Age Basic programs include new topics on academic, persistence, social and emotional coaching as well as new content regarding predictability of daily routines and schedules for children and important developmental tasks of a particular age group. The Preschool Basic program has substantial new content related to developmental tasks including ways to separate from children when leaving them at day care, home safety proofing and monitoring, ways to teach children to problem-solve, self-regulate and develop emotional literacy.
The School Age Basic program has additional content related to household chores, rules regarding computer use and drugs, after school monitoring and homework coaching. In addition to new content, there are also new vignettes showing a greater diversity of families representing different cultural backgrounds and children with varying temperaments and developmental issues.
The Toddler program has been separated from the Preschool Basic program in order to emphasize specific developmental tasks for this age range and home toddler-proofing, ways to promote Preschool Readiness and language skills and also to remove content in the Preschool program that are inappropriate for this age range (e.g., incentives, time-out and problem solving). Again, added multicultural vignettes are provided and new activities for toddlers include less costly every day items such as kitchen utensils, pots and pans, water and rocks.
With the addition of all the new content described above it is not possible to complete the revised prevention program in 12 sessions. It is our experience that it is optimal to have 14-18 weeks to deliver all aspects of this program, especially for high-risk populations or those with children with behavior problems. 14 sessions is considered the minimum number of sessions for accreditation in the prevention protocol. 18 sessions minimum is required for accreditation in the treatment protocol.
While the 12-week program did produce positive results with indicated prevention populations, our research indicated that the added content and sessions enhances the impact of the program with stronger results. The analogy can be made to why you might want to use a newer car: while your 10-year old car still works to get you where you want, it does not have the added improvements and technological advancements such as electric ignition, airbags, cruise control and power steering which give you greater safety and comfort. The updated IY programs and protocols have these enhanced components and innovations learned from years of experience, research and evaluation with the old model. Well heeled risk takers will begin using these new program innovations right away and while many will resist change because they don’t fit in their usual schedule or payment system, eventually as people experience these improvements they will find ways to incorporate them and they will become mainstream. Of course, there is always the option to choose another model according to what options you desire.
The classroom version is a prevention model and is offered 2-3 times a week in 20-minute classroom circle time followed by small group activities to practice the skills taught in circle time. There are 60 lessons for each year. The program spans the year beginning in the fall and continuing until spring.
The small group treatment model is usually offered along side the parent group for 2 hours once a week for 18-22 weeks. There are no more than 6 children per group in these sessions. Dinosaur home activities are given to parents to do with their children each week and parent groups include a brief discussion of the lessons taught in Dinosaur School groups. If the small group model is offered as “pull out” sessions in schools, they are usually offered for 1 hour, twice a week.
A hybrid model of both treatment and classroom dinosaur curriculum has been offered in special education classrooms and for day treatment. These classrooms usually have 8-12 students and 3 teachers, and have offered the dinosaur lesson plans daily throughout the year.
The Incredible Years Dinosaur Curriculum uses video modeling vignettes as one of its core learning methods for teaching children social, emotional and school readiness skills. Some teachers have responded, “Is it appropriate to use DVDs to teach students in the classroom? Children already watch too much television at home and the use of television in the classroom is a passive and poor method of teaching.”
Indeed it is true that children are not sent to school to sit passively in front of a television screen. They are sent to school to be actively and intellectually involved, to be encouraged to communicate their ideas and feelings with others, to learn how to interact socially, to regulate emotions, and to problem-solve. In the past two decades we have learned a great deal about how young children learn and how to enhance brain development so that our teaching methods can be more developmentally appropriate. Research has shown that it is important for teachers to be able to hold and attract children’s attention for them to focus and remember what they are learning. We also have learned that young children are not very verbal and learn best from visual images, simple narrative stories, imaginary worlds and repetition of single ideas. Moreover, children learn best in an atmosphere where they have predictable rules and routines, are highly involved and feel a sense of self-worth.
A great deal has been learned about the effects of television on children’s behavior because of the work of Bandura’s modeling theory (A. Bandura, 1977; Albert Bandura, 1986). Unfortunately, the modeling children are usually exposed to on TV may be more negative and aggressive behavior than positive prosocial behavior. Parents need to monitor this exposure carefully. Other, more recent research conducted at the University of Washington by Christakis and Meltzoff indicated that for very young children, television actually can impede language development, perhaps because it lacks the important reciprocal interaction qualities present in face-to-face encounters.
The Dinosaur Curriculum has been researched as prevention programs delivered 2-3 times a week in preschool and early childhood classrooms with high risk populations as well as with small treatments groups of children diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and Developmental Delays. In randomized control group studies this program has been shown to increase children’s social skills, feelings literacy, problem solving and school readiness skills (Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2010). In the Dinosaur School Curriculum teachers are taught how to use brief video vignette demonstrations of social interactions in an effective way that is engaging to children, interactive, visual, and promotes powerful learning. The use of visual video vignettes is a great medium for education if used as a trigger for discussion to involve students and to practice the positive social or self-regulatory behaviors being modeled. Video vignettes promote children’s attention and increase learning if used in an effective way.
In the classroom version of the Dinosaur School Curriculum teachers show between 1-4 brief video vignettes in each circle time (number of vignettes varies by lesson and also by developmental ability of the children in the classroom). Each vignette is 1-3 minutes long and the majority of vignettes display children using positive coping and problem solving skills in order to provide positive models for children. A minority of the vignettes show children making poor choices so that participants can use problem solving skills to discuss and practice strategies for obtaining more positive outcomes.
The following are some of the key principles of effective use of the dinosaur curriculum vignettes. Teachers should:
• Pause a single vignette several times to determine what children are seeing and feeling; this promotes feeling language and meaningful understanding; moreover, pausing gives children time to think about what they are seeing and respond, promoting active verbal participation.
• Pause a single vignette to ask children what they think will happen next; this promotes storytelling, involvement, and empathy for characters in vignettes.
• Show a vignette more than once: repetition is key to learning as it allows children to rehearse and practice what they are learning, leading to better memory and understanding of the idea.
• Use vignettes to trigger behavioral practice of skills by acting out stories using the ideas children have generated when watching the vignette.
• Use a vignette to prompt further discussion and practice between children and puppets, or to tell a story related to the key idea or express feelings; this promotes children’s engagement with the learning and involvement because of the fantasy and imaginary element of their thinking.
• Focus on one or two simple ideas (e.g., sharing or 2 feeling words) following each vignette; don’t add too much complexity.
• Use the laminated visual cue cards with the video vignettes to highlight key learning idea.
• Set up movement activities following each vignette to enhance learning.
Remember children will be more engaged in watching and learning from the video vignettes if the experience is memorable, meaningful, interactive and intellectually and behaviorally active.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Webster-Stratton, C. (2005). The Incredible Years: A Trouble Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2-8. Seattle, WA: The Incredible Years® Inc.
Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2010). The Incredible Years Parents, Teachers and Children Training Series: A multifaceted treatment approach for young children with conduct problems. In J. Weisz & A. Kazdin (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents, 2nd edition. New York: Guilford Publications.
Webster-Stratton, C. (2011). The Incredible Years: Parents, Teachers, and Children’s Training Series: Program Content, Methods, Research and Dissemination. Seattle, WA: The Incredible Years® Inc.
Webster-Stratton, C. (2012). Collaborating with Parents to Reduce Children’s Behavior Problems: A Book for Therapists Using the Incredible Years Programs. Seattle, WA: The Incredible Years® Inc.
Webster-Stratton, C. (2012). Incredible Teachers: Nurturing Children’s Social, Emotional, and Academic Competence. Seattle, WA: The Incredible Years® Inc. Seattle, WA: The Incredible Years® Inc.