Incredible Years and Teachers Training Series: A Head Start partnership to promote social competence and prevent conduct problems

Parents and teachers of young children, particularly those living or working in poverty situations, are often overwhelmed by the task of parenting or teaching. Parents may be strug­gling with multiple stressors, such as juggling work schedules, child care, dif­ficult relationships, financial problems, or perhaps overcoming a model of harsh parenting they received from their own parents. Teachers are often faced with overcrowded classrooms, multiple children with special needs, and inadequate training in classroom management. Faced with these diffi­culties, teachers and parents may feel isolated, helpless, unsupported, and stressed about their ability to nurture and educate the young children who are in their care.

Prevention and early intervention programs that strengthen the skills of parents and teachers and encourage home-school partnerships can provide the needed support to prevent the escalation of children's ag­gressive behavior problems and promote social competence and school readi­ness in young children. 

To prevent children from progressing on the trajectory from early onset conduct problems to later substance abuse, early intervention and preven­tive efforts should concentrate on reducing known risk factors and increas­ing known protective factors related to delinquency and substance abuse. The Incredible Years training series does this by addressing four predictor variables: (a) promoting parent involvement by helping parents learn how to be more positive and nurturing in their parenting styles and less harsh or abusive in their discipline approaches; (b) promoting stronger school bonding by increasing positive teacher relationships with children and with their parents; (c) increasing children's social competence; and (d) promoting children's self-regulation skills by teaching teachers and parents to help chil­dren learn anger management strategies, problem-solving skills, appropri­ate social behaviors, and friendly communication. This multifaceted ap­proach to early intervention reduces child risk factors, such as conduct problems, and strengthens the protective factors previously listed that will lay the groundwork for preventing later development of substance abuse and other antisocial behaviors. 

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Year: 2007
Bibliography: Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2007). In P. Tolin, J. Szapocznick & S. Sambrano (Eds.), Preventing youth substance abuse (pp. 67-88). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.