The Incredible Years® Blog

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Congratulations on a Beautiful End to MotherWise’s First Spanish Incredible Years® Program!

Cheers to our friends at MotherWise! This program in Denver, CO, has just completed their first Incredible Years® course with Spanish-speaking mothers – online!  IY group leader Emily Parkey has shared their success with us.

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I am overcome with joy and love after participating this morning in MotherWise’s Virtual Spanish IY Program Celebration! 

I would like to take a moment to recognize MotherWise, under the leadership of Executive Director, Galena Rhoades, and Programs and Community Outreach Manager, Jessie Purcel, for making the decision to provide the class virtually to meet participants’ needs during the quarantine.

Parent Program Facilitator, Amanda Love, advocated for the class to take place online after the class was abruptly shut down in mid-March due to Covid-19. Throughout the quarantine, Amanda kept in touch with class participants who felt like they needed the class more than ever, given the increase in time spent at home with their children. Amanda and Jessie problem solved ways to ensure that participants could receive meals and incentives on class nights, and even linked participants’ children to virtual childcare programming throughout the class to ensure that participants could fully interact with the program content.

Under Amanda’s leadership, the virtual program maintained the vast majority of original participants, and was a great way to boost participants’ confidence levels and parenting skill sets throughout the quarantine. Even better, throughout the course of the program, participants strengthened relationships with their children and each other. They now have created a network of Spanish-speaking mothers who will continue to practice skills and support each other long after the program’s end.

At today’s ceremony each graduate mentioned what they had learned from the program, and I would love to share some of these take-always with you (translated from Spanish).

“Especially in this time of coronavirus in which we are all inside of our houses this class has taught me how to be more patient. I am a better mom now because I know how to listen to my children.”

“I was surprised because I thought that this class was going to tell us all of the things that we were doing wrong. Instead, this class taught me to put myself in my child’s shoes to understand how she thinks.”

“My favorite part has been teaching my children how to solve their own problems. I think that this will help them, not only now, but in the future.”

“My favorite part was learning about time out. My daughter doesn’t see it as a punishment, but as a reset. She finishes her time and then goes on her way.”

“I am less authoritarian. I give fewer commands. It’s not about punishing children, we can have fun together.”

“I learned how to praise my child. Now he also praises me!”

Amanda, congratulations for creating a beautiful connection and community with these mothers – and for harnessing the power of their parenting with great fidelity to the Incredible Years Program!

Emily Parkey
Bilingual Program Consultant
Invest in Kids
Denver, CO

Cheers to everyone at MotherWise, and to Emily for sharing their success with us!

To learn more about MotherWise, please click here to visit their website.

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The Incredible Years® Parenting Course – reflections from a group leader on her first course

Accredited Incredible Years Parent Group Leader Kate Bentley has recently written an article sharing her experiences the first time she led an IY group.  She has shared her article with us.

Incredible Parenting, by Kate Bentley

PigbuildWhen I was first told that I would be facilitating The Incredible Years Parenting Group, I was petrified. I felt I would look like a fraud and a hypocrite as I don’t profess to be a ‘perfect parent’, I’m definitely not getting it right all of the time. The first lesson I learnt is that I would be a facilitator not the teacher – the course does the teaching. It’s evidence based – tried and tested.

The first day of my first course I was a nervous wreck. As we welcomed everyone into the room, I could sense their nerves too, this reassured me some what and I was thankful of having an experienced co facilitator by my side. Then Sophie stormed in, late. She didn’t want to be there, she didn’t need to tell us as her body language was shouting it.

Her presence was not helping my nerves, especially with her intimidating death stare. As the 1st session got going, and everyone shared their goals, what they hoped to get out of the course. Sophie made it clear that she wasn’t there by choice, although she did reluctantly say she wanted to stop shouting at her daughter. She was a tough audience but I’m so thankful for Sophie, as she showed me how powerful parenting courses can be. It was in that moment that I put my faith in my training and in the course material.

Week 2 Sophie was still prickly, Week 3 she was participating a bit and starting to thaw.

By week 4 the group had bonded. They looked forward to seeing each other, hearing about how the homework had gone, they were celebrating each others successes as well as offering support and encouragement. I nearly fell off my chair when on week 4 Sophie offered a really positive suggestion to a fellow participant who was struggling.

parent_spotlight pos behav cropIt was Week 6 when I really understood the value of this course. The members were already starting to comment ‘I can’t believe we only have 6 weeks left’, ‘I don’t want it to end’. They were seeing really positive differences at home and enjoyed the space to talk, share and learn.

Parenting Courses are not about learning to be ‘perfect parents’, they are not about judgement or showing people up. They are about building confidence, seeing parenting from the child’s perspective, sharing experiences and gaining a toolkit of positive strategies.

On our last session, Week 12, we celebrated the end of the course, the certificates were presented and it’s a time to reflect. Sophie gave her speech, ‘ I’ve loved this course, everyone should be made to do it. I’ve told all my friends about it’. This blew me away and I felt quite choked but then she went on to say ‘I’ve stopped shouting at my daughter, she isn’t scared of me any more. Our relationship is a 100% better. Thank you so much’.

I have been passionate about delivering the Incredible Years Parenting Group ever since.

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Thanks so much to Kate for sharing her experience with us!  Kate’s article originally appeared at Raring2go!

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Palomar Family Counseling Service Brings Incredible Years® Dinosaur School to Students in San Diego During Covid-19

by Emily Shoots, LMFT
Lead Facilitator
Palomar Family Counseling Service, Inc.
North Coastal Prevention and Early Intervention

Mission  Graduation.jpgWhen schools abruptly closed down on March 13, 2020, we had to adapt quickly as it was clear that children’s social-emotional needs would be greater than ever.  We reached out to partner teachers (Kindergarten through 3rd grade) and joined in their virtual learning time in late March to do the Incredible Years® (IY) small Dinosaur School circle time, but it didn’t feel like enough.  As a parent of two young children, I was worried about the decline of socioemotional skills for them, as well as for the students we’d worked so hard with all year.  Parents that we spoke with were also asking how they could better support their children.  I wanted to do something more, and I longed to find a way to reach my students that I have been serving for almost four years.  Not just to help them feel connected, but for myself as well.  I missed them.  I wanted a way for them to access  IY Dinosaur School whenever they were able to, whether that was in the middle of the day, or at night right before bed.  I decided to utilize something that I knew most of my students were already familiar with, YouTube.

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We knew our YouTube lessons would need to look different than what our usual Incredible Years® Dinosaur School classroom circle time entailed, so my coworkers and I had to do some brainstorming.  I have been providing Dinosaur School small groups and classroom circle times for over 5 years, and our agency has been using the Incredible Years® model for 14 years.  We love the way the Incredible Years® model utilizes the puppets to normalize behaviors and feelings for our students.  The curriculum allows for facilitators to be creative, flexible, and socially relevant to their students’ unique experiences.  So we looked at our Dinosaur School topics of doing your personal best, detecting and understanding feelings, problem solving, and friendly skills and tried to figure out how to address these and present them without the normal interaction of the classroom.  What does it mean to do your personal best while virtually learning?  How can we talk about friendly skills when students are away from their friends?  What new feelings and problems are our students struggling with because of COVID-19?  My coworkers and I, but mostly our puppet friends, discussed how to solve these problems, such as how we miss our friends and school.  We talked about ways to stay connected to each other, like playing games over FaceTime or Zoom, but took it one step further by having Principal Dina and Wally play a game of virtual Uno.  We addressed the many different feelings that students and parents might be having during the pandemic, and we helped to normalize them.  We stressed the importance of mindfulness.  We found supplemental books outside of our usual Dinosaur School curriculum to read to students so they could feel a sense of normalcy.  We did creative lessons with more than one facilitator and puppet to help keep the students engaged.  Many of our teachers utilized these videos in their virtual classrooms, and asked students to comment on what they learned, or what solution they might like to try.  Some students emailed our Dinosaur School email to express their feelings.

Our YouTube channel has over 900 views (and counting), and although it has been quite a learning curve, it has been well worth it.  We love the idea that our students can watch us whenever they want.  And parents can watch with their children, something that they weren’t able to do in the past, and then reinforce the concepts and lessons at home.  With this format, my coworkers and I can watch each other’s videos and give feedback on content and puppeting skills.  My own children have thoroughly enjoyed watching (and helping make) our videos, and have asked me multiple times to start doing them again.  It was definitely daunting at first; we didn’t know how students or parents would respond, or how we, as facilitators, were going to do it without the classroom interaction.  Don’t let those thoughts be discouraging!  Our videos aren’t perfect, but they are authentic and responsive to the very real challenges that arrived with the pandemic.  Students are struggling with many different and complex feelings, so continued social-emotional support is critical during this time.  I love that we have been able to provide some of this support through our virtual Dinosaur School circle time.  My coworkers and I never anticipated being on YouTube but we all agree that it’s been an excellent way to reach students and families in the world of virtual learning.

Check out Palomar Family Counseling Service’s YouTube Channel here!

Emily Shoots is the Lead Facilitator for the North Coastal Prevention & Early Intervention program at Palomar Family Counseling Service, funded by Behavioral Health Services in the County of San Diego. Her program uses the Incredible Years® model in six elementary schools and a typical week included 41 Dinosaur School classroom circle times, and 48 Dinosaur School small groups.



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Incredible Beginnings® Implementation and Evaluation in Powys, Wales


Sue Evans & Anne Breese


The Powys Teaching Health Board is helping to support the implementation and evaluation of the Incredible Beginnings® program in their community.  IY Trainer Sue Evans and IY Mentor Anne Breese have delivered the Incredible Beginnings® course to early childhood teachers throughout Powys, and Dr. Jessica Crumpton, Specialist Child Psychologist at Powys Teaching Health Board has prepared an outcomes report. They have shared their outcomes assessment with us. Here is a summary of the report:


20190717_130110.jpegSince its introduction in 2017 three Incredible Beginnings® courses have been delivered to 31 childcare workers from 14 different childcare settings across Powys. 

The programme has been delivered by Dr Sue Evans, Consultant Child Psychologist, an Incredible Years® trainer, Anne Breese, an Incredible Years® mentor in the Classroom Dina programme and peer coach in the parenting programmes, and Emma Peace (Community Advisory Teacher, Flying Start Lead).

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme, staff attending the training were asked to choose a child anonymously who was showing a high level of need in terms of the development of social and emotional skills and to complete a Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire (SDQ)  measures prior to the course starting and after its completion.

Following the Incredible Beginnings® programme, there was a reduction in the scores on the four areas of difficulty; emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity and peer problems. These findings suggest that following the programme, children’s emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity and peer problems had all improved. Furthermore, there was an increase in the scores on the items measuring prosocial behaviour, suggesting the childcare workers felt that the course improved children’s prosocial behaviour.

pre and post subscale scores 3

An overall “total difficulties” score is computed comprising the four problem scales; emotional problems, hyperactivity, conduct problems and peer problems. These scores are then categorised and compared against normative data.

Of the staff that completed both pre and post measures  (n=21), there was a reduction in the total difficulties score and this reduction was significant using a paired samples t test.

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Furthermore, there was a reduction in the percentage of scores in the clinical range (scoring 15 and above on the total difficulties scale) from 86% to 0%. This means that the majority of children were scoring in the clinical range at the start of the course and all moved to scoring within normal limits by the end of the course.

Read the full outcomes report here.

Learn more about the Incredible Beginnings® program here.