The Incredible Years® Blog

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Tips for Parents to Support Children’s Dinosaur School Learning Online & Offline

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, IY Program Developer

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Whether children are returning to school full time with smaller class-sizes, in a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote teaching, or totally on-line, parents will be struggling with decisions regarding how to support their children’s safe learning and education. Every community is different in terms of the risk level for Covid-19 and every family is different in terms of its needs. While it is important you consult with your local health expert recommendations, at the end of the day, it’s your choice. Trust your instincts and give yourself permission to change your mind as new information becomes available. In addition to academic learning, making your child’s social and emotional learning a priority is especially important when young children have been isolated at home for months without peer interactions.

ShowMeFivePoster_wRulesThe Dinosaur Social and Emotional Curriculum may be offered by teachers or child group therapists to groups of children (ages 3-8 years) twice a week on-line for 30-60 minutes. During these sessions, children will meet their friends to talk with large life-size puppets and teachers about their feelings, rules for how to stay safe, how to make friends and communicate with others, how to problem solve, how to identify and talk about their feelings with peers, how to feel better when experiencing upset feelings, how to calm down when angry, and how to be a good friend to others.

We recommend that, when possible, parents participate in these sessions with their children. This will enhance their ability to support their child’s emotional and social development during the session and throughout the rest of the day. If parents cannot participate, leaders will be sending regular Dinosaur School notes describing how parents can enhance their child’s emotional and social learning at home.

Please see Carolyn’s Tips for Parents Supporting Young Children’s Online and Offline Dinosaur School Social and Emotional Learning

For more resources for Group Leaders delivering IY programs remotely, please visit our website!

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Hot Tips for IY Group Leaders Delivering Child Programs Online

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD, Developer of Incredible Years® Programs

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In the past few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many teachers and child group therapists trained in either the Incredible Years® Dinosaur Small Group treatment program or the Classroom Dinosaur curriculum have started remote delivery of the Dina Dinosaur curriculum to support children’s social and emotional adjustment at home.

Felicity Mask CropWe have been impressed by their willingness to cope with technological challenges and with their innovative responses to this on-line delivery approach.  It seems that most child group therapists and teachers we have talked with have followed the Incredible Years® principles and have worked to make the remote sessions as similar as possible to the IY in-person groups. They are also finding ways to promote genuine relationships and fun interactive experiences and games to present curriculum to the children. Many have sent the children letters and home activities from Dina Dinosaur (posted on Incredible Years® website). Reports indicate that the children have been responsive and engaged with the puppets and activities and look forward to the weekly sessions. Attendance has been good, with few drop outs.  This document expands on the previous blogs and articles I have written about reaching out to children with Dinosaur School.

One way that Incredible Years® and Dinosaur School teachers and therapists around the world have connected with families is by filming their interactions with their puppet friends. These are then shared with children and their families.  The Incredible Years® program developer has posted video example scenarios of herself using the puppets to explore children’s feelings (boredom, loneliness, fear and anxiety, anger and depression) and how they can cope with these feelings.

These videos, as well as videos produced by other dinosaur group leaders around the world, can be found on the Resources for Group Leaders page of our website (look in the tab titled “Resources and Videos for Teachers Working Remotely with Preschoolers”).

For example, please see the vignettes posted at Colorado Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting (RMPBS).  RMPBS partnered with Invest in Kids Dinosaur School trained teachers to film them using the Dinosaur Curriculum puppets to talk about feelings such as being brave, impatient, scared, calm, loved, proud, sad, and grateful.

Triceratops.jpgThese teachers use the Dinosaur Curriculum feeling cards (from Triceratops Unit Three: Understanding and Detecting Feelings) to help children name these feelings, have discussions about how cope with their uncomfortable feelings so they can feel better, and have set up related art and game activities such as feelings bingo, feelings wheel, feelings dictionary, puppet plays, and songs (such as the Rainbow of Feelings from Dina’s Greatest Hits). In some cases, teachers have set up systems so that children can send in pictures of what they are doing to feel happy. These are shared with the children in the subsequent on-line program session. The children are delighted to see each others’ work.

Another group of teachers from Palomar Family Counseling Services Inc., funded by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services, also developed some incredible video clips of how they deliver Dinosaur School on line, again focusing on the Triceratops Feelings Unit.  Please check out their videos of how they use the puppets and books to help their students talk about their feelings and find ways to cope with them.

All these examples show ways that teachers and small group therapists can reach out to help children process their feelings through puppet scenarios, reading books, and writing or art activities. Evaluations so far are promising and indicate the children are enjoying and looking forward to these on-line interactions with their puppet friends.

Of course, there is a need for a randomized control trial (RCT) to compare on-line individual or on-line group training with in-person training to determine whether the on-line approach is as effective as the RCTs conducted in the in-person child groups (Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., Stoolmiller, M. 2008; Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., Hammond, M. 2001; Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., Hammond, M. 2004; Webster-Stratton, C, Hammond, M. 1997). Nonetheless at a time when we can’t safely do in-person group delivery with children, the IY Video tele-session on-line approach seems an opportunity to learn how to support children and their families in a different way.

It was definitely daunting at first; we didn’t know how students or parents would respond, or how we, as group leaders, 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. – Emily Shoots, Lead Teacher Facilitator, Palomar Family Counseling Service, Inc. San Diego

We have been doing our Dinosaur School once a week, and a puppet comes to our google meeting. One session we talked about feeling lonely. I had sent out the shared video from Carolyn Webster Stratton with Felicity Feelings ahead of time and as a result one student brought her new guppies to the meeting and said that she told her mom she was feeling lonely in her room and her mom got her some guppies. We also had a student share that when he was at home he worked hard to build a rocket and he felt proud when he was done. He shared all of this with us without any prompting or follow up questions. Our students have done a remarkable job understanding and labeling their feelings through this difficult time and I owe so much of it to the time we spent with the feelings unit in the IY Dinosaur School curriculum.  – Dinosaur School Trained Teacher, Colorado.

felicity with magnifying glass.JPGThis paper is written to help IY child therapists and teachers understand how to deliver the child dinosaur curriculum on-line in either individual or group format. It will cover how to select children for either the individual or a group on-line IY video approach, provide tips to tailoring the IY child on-line session agenda, how to determine the length and number of sessions needed, and ways to promote essential IY methods, processes, and program delivery fidelity principles when delivering the IY dinosaur child program on-line.  Child therapists or teachers will learn how to work with their coleaders, to share their screen to mediate video vignettes, and to promote more intimacy and child engagement by setting up cooperative practices’, fun games, and drawing contests using the zoom rooms, white boards, or art supplies at home. They will learn how to use Zoom chats to reinforce children with dinosaur stickers, how to involve parents in these activities, and how to use the IY web site resources to share on-line weekly home activities.

Read Carolyn Webster-Stratton’s Hot Tips for IY Group Leaders Delivering Child Programs Online

Please visit our Resources for Group Leaders Working Remotely webpage for:

☀Handouts and Activities for Parents and Children
☀Sample Videos for Delivering Dina Child Programs Online
☀Editable Cards and Awards

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Faster, Easier, and More Incredible ~ Video Streaming!

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD, IY Program Developer

Yes, we have made the leap to streaming the Incredible Years® video program vignettes!

NOW AVAILABLE!  Autism Spectrum & Language Delays Parenting Program, Baby Parenting ProgramToddler Basic ProgramPreschool Basic Program & School Age Basic Program, Child Program videos for Classroom Dina and Small Group Dina AND Teacher Classroom Management Program in streaming format.  COMING SOON:  Teacher Autism program video streaming, and eventually we will have streaming subscription options for all the programs.

Why did we do this?

Actually the project to figure out the best way to convert the Incredible Years program video vignettes to streaming format was underway at least a year before Covid-19,  but this crisis has really pushed us to finalize the details so that group leaders could more easily reach and support parents, teachers, and children at home.  In March of 2020 many IY group leaders began providing the Incredible Years program to families via various internet platforms but some were having difficulties using the DVDs or USBs to show their videos in on-line sessions. We needed another option for viewing the videos on-line.

Over the past 6 months we have prepared hundreds of program video vignettes, uploaded them to the web, labeled and formatted them into playlists, and worked out a secure subscription-based format for streaming.  We are now ready to go and hope that you enjoy accessing the video vignettes in this way!

How to use streaming?

When you purchase a subscription, you will receive a confirmation email from that includes your user name and password, and link to our video streaming webpage.  In order to protect our subscription account information, our streaming site uses 2-Factor account authentication.  After entering your account username and password, you will see a screen notifying you that a single-use code is being sent to your email address.  Your account subscription to the videos will be accessible from any device with internet connection.  The vignettes are arranged in easy-to-navigate playlists for each program part.


Group Leaders may now purchase a Program curriculum package with a one-year subscription to the videos online. This option has everything a new Group Leader needs – video streaming subscriptions, group leader manual, books, and accessory materials. Prices start at $625 per person with discounts available for 5 or more subscriptions.

If your agency has previously purchased the full program package with accessory materials, you may purchase a one-year subscription to access the videos online with no additional accessory items. Prices start at $500 per subscription, with discounts available for 5 or more subscriptions.

Please see our IY Online page and our Purchasing page for further information.

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Hot Tips for IY Group Leaders Delivering Parent Programs Online

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D., Developer of Incredible Years Programs

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How it took a pandemic to force the IY developer to explore the use of on-line Incredible Years video tele-session training

Up until 6 months ago I was resistant to the idea of on-line IY video tele-session training and had never used Zoom or any other platform to provide parent intervention. I believed strongly in the importance of face-to-face training interactions and the value of experiential and reflective learning with others through collaborative problem solving, role plays, and practices. I found the group trainings the most satisfying aspect of both my own clinical group work as well as the preferred method for training new group leaders. My early research with several randomized control group trials (Webster-Stratton, 1984; Webster-Stratton, Kolpacoff, Hollingsorth, 1988) showed better parent and child outcome effect sizes when parents were trained via group interventions using video modeling with trained group leaders, versus group only without video methods, or self-administered video-based programs, or individualized one-on-one approaches using “bug in the ear” methods. The power of group support and building parent relationships was a critical element in parents’ ability to change behaviors. Parents in most IY parent groups were reluctant to have their trainings end despite the fact they were 18+ 2-hour weekly sessions. Many parents made plans to continue to see and support each other afterwards. I couldn’t imagine on-line delivery being a substitute for the in-person group experience where parents could build strong and supportive interpersonal relationships. It seemed to me that on-line training, even in groups, was more impersonal and that it would be difficult to establish trust and meaningful connections between group leaders and parents and to carry out successful practices with each other.

So, my foray into IY video tele-sessions was, to large extent, forced because of the coronavirus preventing travel and the inability to have groups of people together in one room. Initially the technology seemed intimidating and frustrating and likely affected my enthusiasm and effectiveness at using this method of program delivery. However, I have now reached the point of actually enjoying aspects of this approach and exploring how I can increase the similarities between IY in-person and on-line sessions and promoting genuine connections. Perhaps it is not the platform that makes one training method more effective than the other, rather it is the group leader who is able to make the individual or group feel safe and engaging on-line. One of the tricks is for group leaders to allow themselves to experiment with technology methods to bring fun, meaning and collaboration into the training, to reduce expectations for covering as much content in one session as for in-person sessions and to staying flexible with technology challenges. I was not an easy convert and still find this approach more fatiguing than face-to-face intervention and look forward to returning to the in-person approach when it is safe again. However, I can envision a silver lining to this on-line training method for the future, especially for parents who can’t travel to groups because of lack of transportation, or incompatible work schedules or sickness, or some other family conflict. It even appears from early data that parent dropouts or missed sessions from on-line training may be lower than group approaches because on-line sessions can more easily be rescheduled to adjust to a schedule conflict whereas face-to-face group sessions cannot. Now I love to send participants to rooms for practice, to give them funny stickers, and rewards for their efforts and help them share their successes with each other. While I can’t provide interesting snack rewards or tangible prizes or hugs I can encourage participants to do something for themselves at this challenging time and work on some work-life balance. I am encouraged by the positive participant evaluations and comments such as, “this is definitely better than nothing”. Here are a few other comments on our parent evaluations.

There was so much helpful information covered in today’s session, I look forward to putting these practices and ideas into my time with my five-year-old. I appreciated the group leader addressing specific questions I had regarding independent play, and also sharing some videos with social/emotional coaching that were relevant to my parenting (as a mom of boys). Also, I look forward to sharing some breathing/calming exercises so he can find some good self- soothing strategies to grow with. There were several helpful ideas for this, and I had actually not heard most of these before!”

This paper is written to help IY group leaders understand how deliver on-line individual or group sessions. The article will cover how to select parents for either the individual or a group on-line IY video tele-session training, to provide tips to tailoring the IY parent video tele-session agenda, to determining the number of sessions needed, and ways to promote essential IY methods, processes, and fidelity principles when delivering the IY programs on-line.  Group leaders will learn how to work with their co-leaders, to share their screen to mediate video vignettes and to promote more intimacy by using on-line rooms to set up buzzes and practices. The chat function and white boards can be used to record key principles. You will learn how to use the IY web site to share on-line weekly home activities, record sheets, refrigerator notes, and session evaluations via internet to parents.

Read Carolyn Webster-Stratton’s article Hot Tips for IY Group Leaders Delivering Parent Programs Online here!

View our Resources for Group Leaders delivering IY programs Online here!