The Incredible Years® Blog

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Duke project brings Dinosaur School to Incredible Head Start teachers

  • by Christina Christopolous, PhD, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University
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Incredible Head Start Teachers with Wally & Molly in North Carolina

In collaboration with IY staff, researchers from the Center for Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University are completing a 120-classroom randomized trial to test the outcomes of two IY programs in combination: IY Teacher Classroom Management and IY Dinosaur Classroom Prevention Program. They are targeting low-income preschool classrooms in four North Carolina counties, with half of the schools receiving training during the two-year evaluation period and half trained in the following year (i.e., waitlist comparison).  Both lead teachers and instructional assistants are participating in IY training and in-class coaching.  With the support and help of the Incredible Years Office, this project has utilized a training model that combines the two programs into a single training protocol carried out in four two-day segments spaced across the school year.  The researchers will be assessing the effects of training, coaching, and curriculum implementation on classroom climate, behavior management strategies, child self-regulation, and early academic achievement. So far, Incredible Years has trained teachers and assistants from 28 classrooms. The teachers expressed great enthusiasm for the project, and many have moved forward with certification in IY Dinosaur School.  The Duke staff are busy analyzing outcomes from the first year of implementation and preparing to begin work with a new cohort of teachers in 2017-18.

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Highlighting Morrison’s Success at Sustaining IY Evidence-based Program Delivery

  • by Sarah Heal, Morrison Center Program Manager

Morrison Child & Family Services’ Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation team in Portland, Oregon had the opportunity to become reacquainted with Carolyn Webster Stratton earlier this month. We have been providing early childhood prevention services for 14 years and have grown to a team of 14 group leaders (half of whom have been with Morrison for 10 or more years!). Our consultation day with Carolyn made us realize The Incredible Years has become a fundamental part of our professional lives.

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Incredible Morrison Group Leaders at a Consultation Day with Carolyn Webster-Stratton

We reflected on the last 14 years and realized they have been 14 “incredible years!” As a team, we have facilitated over 150 Incredible Years groups. That includes training in, and delivery of, many curriculums: Preschool Basic, Toddler Basic, Advanced Program, Dinosaur School, Attentive Parenting and the Baby Program. Six team members are certified in the Preschool Basic Program and one of our group members is certified in the Dinosaur School Program.

We regularly use the Classroom Dinosaur Curriculum in the childcare centers and Head Start programs where we provide early childhood mental health consultation. Our puppets have helped us teach rules, feeling identification, emotional regulation, and problem solving. Wally and Molly (Tiny, Dina and Baby Dina too) become friends who help our preschoolers learn social emotional skills. Our work with the puppets has been useful in building relationships with children and with the childcare teachers and programs we support. (In fact, often teachers are the first to ask “Where’s Molly?”)

The Incredible Years has truly become part of what we do each day as we support parents and teachers. After our consultation with Carolyn we have more energy for keeping our practices and role plays real for parents; and we are more current on trauma, praise and time out research. A big thank you to Carolyn for the “gems” we’ll use as we begin a new year of The Incredible Years groups!

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The Early Start Project in New Zealand brings the Incredible Years Toddler Program to High Needs Families

  • by John Horwood

Early Start is an early intervention home visitation service for high needs families with young children based in Christchurch, New Zealand. The service was developed in the mid-1990s and is run by a consortium that includes the Christchurch Health and Development Study Research Group, University of Otago; the Canterbury branch of the New Zealand Plunket Service, The Pegasus GP Group; Māori community representatives; and representatives from social services.

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Facilitators current and former, L-R: Janine Harrison, Fiona Hayes, Lucy Ragg and Jo Waddingham on May 2nd 2017.


The Early Start service comprises a system of home-based family support and visitation provided by trained family support workers. Their task is to empower and assist families to address wide-ranging issues relating to child health and welfare, parenting and family functioning. Depending on the level of need families may remain enrolled with the service for up to five years.

Early Start currently works with around 300 families, supported by funding from the Government Ministry of Social Development and the Canterbury District Health Board.

The service is recognized as a flagship program within the suite of Government funded early intervention services and the outcomes achieved by Early Start have been used to benchmark the performance of other services funded under the Government’s Family Start initiative.

In 2012 Early Start implemented Incredible Years® Toddler as an adjunct to the core service to provide additional assistance to parents who were experiencing severe parenting difficulties. Recently an evaluation of the implementation of Incredible Years® Toddler was conducted using information gathered on a total of 75 families who were offered places in parenting courses over the period from 2012-2015.

Findings showed evidence of small but pervasive benefits of participation in the toddler program reflecting:

  • Reductions in the use of negative/ineffective parenting strategies and increased use of positive/effective strategies
  • More positive attitudes to parenting and fostering child development
  • Increased parenting satisfaction and self-efficacy
  • Improvements in child behavior

Participating parents also reported very high levels of satisfaction with the program and program facilitators.

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Facilitators: Jo Waddingham and Lucy Ragg with parents at Session #9 on May 2nd 2017.

Based on these findings Early Start has now moved to cement Incredible Years® Toddler as a core component of the service.

See our evaluation report on the implementation of Incredible Years® Toddler Program.

For further information on the Early Start service go to


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The Genesis Programme in Ireland: An Area Based Approach Delivering Incredible Years to Children, Families and Communities

  • by Hugh Doogan
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Wally & Molly bring music and joy to school

The Genesis Programme – which is a consortium of over 50 Partner Organisations – delivers the Incredible Years® suite of programmes to children, families and communities in areas of entrenched disadvantage in Dundalk and Drogheda in Co Louth, Ireland.

children from ireland.jpegThe consortium includes early years settings, primary schools, a range of statutory health and children’s services as well as other key stakeholders including the local third level institution, Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Dundalk and Drogheda are two regional towns Co Louth – Ireland’s smallest county – each with a population of just over 30,000.

The vision of The Genesis Programme is to measurably improve the well-being and development outcomes for children aged pre-birth to six years of age in the targeted areas by implementing The Incredible Years® suite of programmes with fidelity using an agreed area based approach.

The programme is funded by the Department of Children & Youth Affairs and Atlantic Philanthropies. The lead agency is Louth Leader Partnership who provide governance and are the employers of the six strong Project Team. The work is overseen by a Management Group and there is an Executive who have devolved responsibility for Staffing Matters, Finance, Office Administration, Tenders and other ongoing matters.

In 2016, four new Area Coordination Teams (ACTs) were set up to support the ongoing development of the initiative in local areas to allow for greater coordination at a local level and to facilitate embedding programme delivery in the respective communities.

The Genesis Programme is two years into implementation now and in that time have delivered over 200 IY programmes including Small Group Dina, Classroom Dina, Teacher Classroom Management, the Parent Baby Programme, the Toddler Programme and the Basic Parent Programme.

In July 2016, the early years practitioners from the Redeemer Crèche & Playgroup became the first group in the world to complete the Incredible Beginnings ™ programme.teachers with Wally.jpeg

This year, The Genesis Programme is delivering their first School Readiness Programme and Autism Spectrum & Language Delays Programme for Parents.

A large number of Group Leaders are trained across the various programmes, many of whom are now accredited or on their way to accreditation and there are three Peer Coaches in training.

The work is ongoing but there is no doubt that that the programmes are having an impact on the children and families as emerging research and evaluation findings are showing.

View practitioners with the Genesis Programme speak about their experiences using Incredible Years Programs in their community.

For more information on The Genesis Programme please visit

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Ministry of Parenting Report on two pilot Incredible Years® Autism Spectrum and Language Delays Programs

22 parents of children on the autism spectrum, ages 2-8, participated in 12 sessions of the IY Parent Autism Program delivered by Jeannie Gordon, an IY Parent Basic Group Leader Mentor in Essex, England. 20 of 22  parents reported positive or highly positive satisfaction scores on the outcome evaluation measure. All but 2 parents reported significant stress reduction on the Autism Parent Stress Index. Many parents wanted the program to continue or to be longer. See their report for parents’ comments and graphs of results and population demographics.

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Seattle hosted an Incredible Years® Peer Coaching Training December 8-9, 2016

By Carolyn Webster-Stratton Ph.D.

Nine accredited group leaders with extensive Incredible Years group experience came to Seattle from Rhode Island; Colorado;pc1 Pennsylvania; Kentucky; Canada; California; and New York for a 2-day peer coach training with IY Trainers Carolyn Webster-Stratton and Jamila Reid.

We are excited that they will be coaching new IY group leaders in their agencies and helping them to become accredited in Incredible Years Programs. They, too, will be working on their own accreditation as IY peer coaches by sending in DVDs of their coaching process.

See link about peer coaching

Why are peer coaches needed?

Research has shown that traditional, brief, single shot, didactic training workshops with passive participation are ineffective in changing therapist behavior. Rather, longer, quality, active training workshops have been shown to lead to increased therapist proficiency and intervention adherence and fidelity. However, despite the fact that the 3-day Incredible Years workshops are based on a collaborative, experiential, and self-reflective approach that receive very positive evaluations, there is still a need for group leaders to have consultation and coaching post workshop training. Studies have shown that new learners of evidence-based programs are often are unsure of their themselves and question new techniques or strategies. We find that many new IY group leaders are uncertain about how to use the collaborative leadership process with groups, select appropriate vignettes for particular groups, and mediate vignettes to trigger active role play practices, reflection and problem-solving. In some ways the 3-day workshop is like learning to swim on dry land and starting to lead groups is like jumping into the water to practice actually swimming. These new swimmers need additional support (and floats) as they practice the new strokes.pc2

Learning something new starts with a “survival phase” before achieving a state where new knowledge and skills are consistently and successfully applied and adapted. Studies have found that combining ongoing coaching, video feedback and consultation to quality training workshops improves the adoption of innovation, retention of therapist/group leader proficiency and intervention delivery fidelity (Herschell, Kolko, Baumann, & Davis, 2010; Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Marsenich, 2014). If group leaders/therapists reach proficient levels in adherence/competence in delivery of the program and have adequate consultation, coaching and organizational support, it possible to achieve better outcomes with clients. If therapists/group leaders lack support, then it is unlikely clients will receive the benefits that were reported in the original research.

What is peer coaching?

Coaching is non-evaluative feedback based on observation. A peer coach is someone who is learner-centered and supportive, builds on pc3group leader’s strengths, observes and monitors their skills and interpersonal processes, prompts or models skills/thoughts and self-reflections according to group leader’s goals, sets up behavioral practices and promotes their use of strategic behavior plans, and encourages, praises and reinforces group leader steps in the right direction.

Key coach roles include: relationship building, assuring group leader evidence-based knowledge, assuring quality group leader methods and processes, promoting certification/accreditation and a supportive infrastructure.


Herschell, A. D., Kolko, D. J., Baumann, B. L., & Davis, A. C. (2010). The role of therapist training in the implementation of psychosocial treatments: A review and critique with recommendations. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 448-466.

Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, J., & Marsenich, L. (2014). Improving Therapist Fidelity During Evidence-Based Practice Implementation Psychiatric Services, 65(6), 789-795.

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West to East…International Conference on Parenting in the 21st Century

By Carolyn Webster-Stratton

IY Developer, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, speaking at the Parenting in the 21st Century International Conference in Hong Kong.


I was invited to give a plenary address October 20-22, 2016 in Hong Kong at an International Conference entitled Parenting in the 21st Century. The faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong in collaboration with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals hosted this event to discuss ways to support Hong Kong parents who work long hours and feel pressure to help their children succeed academically amid the stress of insufficient child care, poverty, high unemployment and a high cost of living. Hong Kong is a city of 7.5 million people living in 427.5 square miles. It is the world’s fourth most densely populated territory.

Major changes in the Hong Kong family over the past 50 years such as more gender equality, later marriages, decreased fertility, and more women than men enrolled in university are associated with increased divorce, more non marital childbearing and a wider discrepancy between the privileged and less privileged social classes. The widening achievement gap and socioeconomic inequality echoes the problems in the United States and seems to be a global phenomenon. And like the US, the middle class families struggle trying to support their children for higher university education without the financial resources to make this happen. In turn the youth experience the stress and competition of school as well as the future challenge of caring for their elderly parents. All of this sounds remarkably familiar to me.

Parenting in the 21st Century International Conference in Hong Kong, October 20-22, 2016.


Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the Hong Kong secretary for labour and welfare talks in his presentation about the 3 C’s Caring, Compassion, and Cohesiveness. Certainly this interdisciplinary Hong Kong conference coordinating committee demonstrate the 3 C’s in their every action. They manage a typhoon closing down the conference midstream for one day with grace and calmness. While my presentation is delayed until the next day I am surprised on a Saturday to see a full room of participants. I hoped to make the case in my presentation for the importance of responsive and caring parenting as an antidote to all the other stressors that parents and children are coping with. Most important seems finding ways for families to give children more playful and loving child-directed time and attention rather than too much pressure to perform.


Earlier in the year we had offered an IY parent training workshop in Hong Kong picture of group and I was thrilled to talk with Kitty Heung, a social worker about her experiences delivering the program.

IY trainer, Julie Andersen, and new IY group leaders.


From left to right: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Terri Au, Sandra Tsang, Kitty Heung.


She reported that parents were engaged and drop out rates pretty low. Also I got to meet Maureen Kong a psychologist who had done her dissertation evaluating the Incredible Years basic parenting program as well as her professor Terry Au. Happily, Maureen has some nice results. The conference concluded with an amazing second Dim Sum lunch. The conference co-coordinators Professor Samson Tse and Dr. Margaret Wong have done a fantastic job with organizing this conference and their kite theme seems an apt way to depict the idea of letting children fly safely with parental emotional support, play, and flexibility.

Maureen Kong and Carolyn Webster-Stratton.


Samson Tse and Margaret Wong.



Wishing Hong Kong continued support with flying their kites of promoting evidence-based programs with success including families and schools.