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The Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Universal Prevention Program: New Research!

Developed by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.

The Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Program is a universal 6-10 session parenting program that can be delivered with all parents of children aged 2-6 years. This program focuses on teaching parents the value of child-directed play, and how to use academic, persistence, social and emotion coaching to promote their child’s school readiness and language skills, emotional literacy and empathy, friendship skills, self-regulation, and problem-solving skills.

Xiang Zhou, PhD, LP, Assistant Professor in Counseling Psychology at Purdue University has recently published a study of the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® program, Evaluating the Feasibility of the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting Program as Universal Prevention for Racially Diverse Populations – the first assessment conducted on the Attentive Parenting® universal prevention program with an ethnically diverse population.

In this study, 152 parents (88% mothers; 81% non-White) participated in the Attentive Parenting® Program in 6 to 9 2.5-hour weekly sessions. Parents in this study were found to have attended 71% of all sessions. Parents who completed the program reported a significant decrease in conduct problems and an increase in prosocial behaviors in their children.

We are excited about this study of the Attentive Parenting® Program because it looks at the impact of a shorter (6-10 session) video-based prevention program with a culturally diverse sample. Just like the original Incredible Years Preschool Basic program, the Attentive Parenting® program includes the core parenting concepts of child-directed play, social, emotional, & persistence coaching, and praise. With its updated vignettes and added content on promoting academic readiness through interactive reading and teaching children self-regulation and problem-solving strategies, agencies may consider the Attentive Parenting® program as another option for parent education with a prevention population.

Read Professor Xiang Zhou’s blog on this study here!

About the Attentive Parenting® Program: Teaching parents the importance of child-directed play & coaching to promote child development

The Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Program is delivered in 6-10 weekly 2-3 hour sessions. For group leaders working with parents of toddlers, the course will take 6 weeks to complete, and for group leaders working with parents of preschoolers, it will take 8-10 sessions to cover the program content. Read below to see how the skills taught in the Attentive Parenting® Program can be used to help parents and children, and preview vignettes from this program.

Child-Directed Play: Promoting Positive Relationships

Children derive unique benefits when their parents give them undivided, focused, regular, and responsive attention during child-directed play. During adult-child play, the child develops a trusting emotional bond and important physical, cognitive, social, and language skills. Attentive playtimes also play a critical role in shaping the way children think, learn, react to challenges, and develop relationships throughout their lives.

Attentive Parenting® Program 1: Child-Directed PlayIntroductory Narration

Like all Incredible Years® programs, the Attentive Parenting® Program starts by building a foundation of positive adult-child relationships through child-directed play interactions. This style of interacting during play means that parents follow the children’s lead and ideas, enter with their children into their imaginary and pretend world, express their joy and playfulness in being with the children, and help the children feel special by being an appreciative audience to their play. Because one of the major devel­opmental tasks for young children is to become more autonomous, parents learn how child-directed play helps children feel some indepen­dence and develop an individual sense of self. A second major developmental task for young children is to form secure attachments with parents. Child-directed play strategies help parents build safe and secure relationships that eventually lead to fewer difficulties for children separating from their parents and easier transitions to school settings.

Descriptive Language Coaching

In the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Program parents learn how to coach children during child-directed playtimes using descriptive language coaching. This descriptive commenting is a running commentary during play that describes the children’s behaviors and activities. Descriptive commenting indicates to the child how attentive, focused and responsive the parent is on what the child is doing, which further strengthens their relationship bond. By giving positive attention and reinforcement to whatever aspect of the play the commenting is focused on, the parent further encourages children’s exploration and sense of discovery. Descriptive language coaching is also a valuable teaching tool that encourages language development by bathing the child in language, providing direct, important verbal information about behavior and actions or the names of objects.

Attentive Parenting® Program 2: Academic & Persistence Coaching Introductory Narration

In academic readiness coach­ing, parents focus their comments on academic concepts, including the names of objects, shapes, colors, sizes, numbers, textures, and position (e.g., on, under, inside, beside, next to). For example, when the parent says, “You have three yellow rectangles on top of the red fire truck,” the child is learning about shape, colors and numbers, and the language to describe these concepts. Thus, descriptive language coaching can be delivered strategically and can be tailored to meet a number of relationship, language, and learning goals, according to children’s needs and developmental levels.

Persistence Coaching

Another form of coaching is Persistence coaching – when the parent comments on the child’s cogni­tive and behavioral states while the child is playing. For example, a parent whose child is working on a puzzle can comment on the child’s being focused, or concentrating well, or trying hard, or persisting and staying patient, even though the puzzle is difficult. Recognizing the child’s inter­nal state of mind and the physical behaviors that go along with that state is especially important for children who might be inattentive, easily frustrated, impulsive, or hyperactive. Labeling the times a child is focused and persist­ing patiently and calmly with a difficult task helps the child to recognize that internal state, what it feels like, and to put a word to it. Attention and coaching help the child to stick with the task longer than he or she might have otherwise, and builds confidence by teaching that, with patience and persistence, the child will be able to eventually navigate a difficult situation.

Emotion Coaching

Emotion coaching, that is, labeling feelings as children experience them, helps children link a word to a feeling­ state, which helps them develop a vocabulary for recognizing and expressing emotions. Once children are emotionally literate, they will be able to express their feelings to others and more easily regulate their emotional responses. In addition, they will begin to recognize emotions in others – the first step toward empathy.

Attentive Parenting® Program 3: Emotion Coaching – Introductory Narration

In the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Program, parents are encouraged to give more attention to positive emotions than negative emotions during play interactions. However, when children do exhibit negative or uncomfortable emotions, such as anger, fearfulness, or sadness, the parent will coach them by pair­ing the negative emotion with the positive coping response. For example, a parent might say to a child whose tower is knocked over, “You look frustrated about that, but you are staying calm and concentrating hard to try to solve the problem,” or to a fearful child, “I could tell that you felt shy about asking her to play. It was really brave of you to try it!” In this way, the parent validates the angry or shy feeling without giving it too much attention, and also expresses faith that the child will be able to cope with the feeling to pro­duce a positive outcome. Emotional and persistence coaching can be combined, and this approach may even preempt an escalation of an angry tantrum.

Emotion Coaching Promotes Emotional Regulation

A major developmental task for young children (ages 3-6 years) is the development of emotional self-regulation skills, such as the recognition and expression of emotions, ability to wait and accept limits, development of empathy, and self-control over anger and aggression. As children begin to recognize and express their emotions, parents can begin to teach them self-calming strategies.

Attentive Parenting® Program 5: Promoting Emotion Regulation Skills – Introductory Narration

Because children are visual thinkers and love imaginary play, it is highly effective to use stories, puppets, pictures, and role-plays to help them practice calming thoughts, images, and words. For example, parents in the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Program learn how to use Tiny Turtle’s secret to calming down through deep breaths, positive self-talk, and happy visualizations. During playful interac­tions with the help of a calm-down thermometer and turtle puppet, children practice these cognitive strategies.

Attentive Parenting® Program 5: Using Tiny Turtle Puppet to Explain How to Calm Down

One-on-One Social Coaching

Another major developmental task for young children is forming social and friendship skills that include beginning to share, helping others, initiat­ing conversations, listening, and cooperating. Social coaching involves adults playing with children in a way that models, prompts, and reinforces these skills. The first step in social coaching is for the parent to model and label appropriate social skills whenever they occur. For example, a parent might model social skills during play inter­actions by saying, “I’m going to be your friend and share my truck with you.” Next, the parent can prompt a social behavior by asking for the child’s help to find something or asking the child for a tum. If the child does share or help, then the parent responds to this behavior by describing it and praising. For example, “Thank you! You found the blue block I was looking for. That was so helpful. You are a good friend!” On the other hand, if the child does not share or help when prompted, the parent models waiting and being respectful by saying, “I guess you are not ready to share. I am going to wait patiently for a tum and do something else right now.” Through modeling, prompting, and scaffolding social skills with social coaching and praise during one-on-one playtimes, children are learning positive play social interactions.

There is a wide range of developmental variation in the development of children’s social skills. Most toddlers and some preschoolers engage in what is called parallel play. Parallel play is when children may be playing next to another child but are totally involved in their own exploration and discovery process and rarely, if ever, initiate interaction or seem unaware of the child sitting next to them. As they develop, children begin to be interested in other children but lack the social skills to initiate and sustain these interactions on their own. At ages 4 to 5 years, children progress to some sustained interactions with peers but still need coaching to maintain these interactions in a positive way and to solve interpersonal peer issues during the play.

Attentive Parenting® Program 4: Social Coaching – Introductory Narration

Peer Social Coaching

For children who have moved beyond parallel play to peer interactions, parents can use social coaching with two or more chil­dren playing together. This time the parent prompts, models, and describes the social skills that are occurring among the children, for example, commenting on times the children share, wait, take turns, say thank you, help each other, ask before grabbing a toy, and give a friendly suggestion. They also encourage interactions among children by providing words for a child to use to ask for something he or she wants, or praising a child who is waiting patiently when another child is not ready to share, or prompting a child to praise another child. Individual or peer social coaching strengthens children’s friendships and makes it clear what the desired social skills are. However, it is important to assess children’s developmental readiness for social play with peers. Children who are primarily engaged in parallel play and do not initiate play with peers or seem interested in peers will benefit from individual practice with an adult before entering into situations with a peer. Then, when they do play with peers, scaffolding by adults will help them to be successful. Children who are interested and motivated to play with other children but who lack the impulse control or skill to do so successfully also will benefit from individual coaching because an adult can patiently help a child to practice and fine-tune social skills. Then, when playing with peers, the adult can continue to prompt and praise social behaviors as they happen. For example, a parent might say, “You shared with Mary. That was so friendly! Look at how happy your friend seems now.” Helping children make the connection between their positive social behavior and another child’s feelings is important for them in developing empathy, as well as peer relationships.

Teaching Children to Problem Solve Through Play Interactions

As children move from toddlerhood to the preschool and early school­ age years, parents can use emotion and social coaching during play to help children learn how to express their feelings and use calm-down self-regulation strategies, and to practice appro­priate social behaviors, such as sharing, waiting, helping, and taking turns. These are the bedrock cognitive and behavioral skills children need to begin learning to solve problems. During the preoperational stage of cognitive development (ages 4-6 years), when children’s imaginary play is exploding, parents can use puppet play and pretend scenarios during play interactions to teach children problem-solving strategies for managing conflicts through a five-step process.

The first step is to help them define and recognize a problem by having a puppet present children with a common childhood problem (e.g., being teased) that is signaled by an uncomfortable feeling. Then children are asked to help the puppet come up with a solution to the problem by showing what the solution looks like (e.g., staying calm and ignoring). Next, the children are asked to help the puppet think of other solutions in case the first solution does not work. Each time, the children demonstrate and practice one of these solutions with the puppet. As children move into the operational stage of cognitive development, they eventually are able to learn the fourth and fifth problem-solving steps of evaluating solutions and choosing the best solution. All of this problem-solving learning takes place in fun, imaginary, creative, and playful situations so that children can learn the language and emotional self-regulation behaviors before they are encouraged to use this approach in the midst of real-life conflict.

Attentive Parenting® Program 6: Using Puppet to Teach Problem-Solving Steps

Read IY Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton’s chapter on play and coaching, The Incredible Years: Use of Play Interventions and Coaching for Children with Externalizing Difficulties.

Learn more about the Attentive Parenting Program on our website!

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New report on IY Parent and Teacher Autism Program outcomes from New Zealand

On 17 May, 2021, The Ministry of Education and University of Canterbury presented an evaluation report on the implementation of the Incredible Years Parent and Teacher Autism Programs in New Zealand.

The evaluation team was interested in looking at how the IY Parent and Teacher Autism programs might lead to:
1) increased engagement, emotional regulation and communication skills of young children demonstrating behaviours associated with Autism (child outcomes);
2) increased wellbeing and coping skills of parents & caregivers enabling them to better support their child (caregiver outcomes);
3) increased teacher capability to help children demonstrating behaviours associated with Autism (teacher outcomes); and
4) longer term and unintended benefits for those involved and the wider communities (additional benefits).

The evaluation team collected both qualitative and quantitative data from program participants.

For participants who completed the Autism Parenting Program, the evaluation team found a significant reduction in reports of parental stress, improved feelings of confidence, competence, and wellbeing, and an improved home-school relationship.

“It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It made me feel like that it wasn’t bad parenting… So I think for me as a mum I am more confident about what I am doing and therefore I am more relaxed about things” – parent

For teachers who completed the Teacher Autism program, the evaluation team found increased teacher confidence – teachers reported feeling confident about the skills they learned in the Teacher Autism program, in their ability to apply the strategies they learned, and increased frequency of use of these strategies. Further, teachers reported an increase in confidence in their knowledge of ASD.

“I feel like beforehand I didn’t understand this [ASD] child and I didn’t know how to teach these children. Now I feel quite confident that I have the knowledge and some strategies that I can try” – teacher

The evaluation team also looked at the outcomes for children whose parents, caregivers and teachers participated in the IY Autism Parent and Teacher programs. Their findings suggest that there is a positive benefit for children, including some increased child participation and engagement in activities at home and at school.

“He never used to join the mat times but now he is the first one to join everything” – teacher

In interviews with parents, caregivers and teachers, program participants reported an increase in child emotional regulation and communication.

The evaluation team found some additional “unintended” benefits to parents, caregivers and teachers. Parents reported:

  • Improved parental emotion regulation
  • Benefit of establishing social supports and relationships with other program participants
  • Improved understanding of their child, benefiting their relationship with their child, as well as with their spouse/partner
  • Ability to share what they learned with other members of their immediate and extended family

Teachers who completed the Teacher Autism program reported:

  • Increased communication and collaboration between home and school
  • Sharing information with colleagues
  • Increased knowledge of ASD
  • Ability to generalize skills learned in the IY Teacher Autism program to daily practice

Incredible Years would like to thank the Ministry of Education and IY Parent and Teacher Group Leaders in New Zealand for their commitment to implementing IY programs with fidelity through training, consultation and accreditation. These group leaders are the heart and soul of the success of IY program delivery because of their continual support and ability to tailor IY program principles to each child’s unique developmental needs.

Join IY Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton for Autism Parent Group Leader Training!

Autism Parent Group Leader Online Tele-Session Training
Dates: June 8th, 10th, 15th, 22nd, & 24th 2021, 8:00am – 11:15am PST
Venue: Online (Zoom)
Led by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD
Cost: $775 per person
June 2021 Autism Parent Online Training Brochure & Registration Info

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Incredible Years® Programs – New and Emerging Research

New study is the first to evaluate the Incredible Years® Attentive Parenting program as a Universal Prevention Program for a Racially Diverse Population

Xiang Zhou, PhD, LP, Assistant Professor in Counseling Psychology at Purdue University has recently published his evaluation on the Attentive Parenting program, Evaluating the Feasibility of the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting Program as Universal Prevention for Racially Diverse Populations – the first assessment conducted on the Attentive Parenting program.

In this study, 152 parents (88% mothers; 81% non-White) participated in the Attentive Parenting® Program. Parents in this study were found to have attended 71% of all sessions. Parents who completed the program reported a significant decrease in conduct problems and an increase in prosocial behaviors in their children.

We are excited about this study of the Attentive Parenting® Program because it looks at the impact of a shorter (6-9 session) video-based prevention program with a culturally diverse sample. With it’s updated vignettes and added content on teaching children self-regulation and problem-solving, agencies may consider the Attentive Parenting® program as another option for parent education with a prevention population.

Read Professor Xiang Zhou’s blog on this study here!

Trial of the Incredible Years® Autism Spectrum and Language Delays Program in Spain

Dr. Fátima Valencia, a clinical psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Gregorio Marañón University General Hospital in Madrid has announced a pilot study of the Incredible Years® Autism Parenting Program in Spain – the FIRST STEPS project.

She and her team are conducting a randomized pilot trial with the primary objective of assessing the feasibility of implementing The Incredible Years® ASDLD program in Spain. The aim is to determine the acceptability and satisfaction levels of parents and, as a secondary aim, to establish the preliminary efficacy in reducing parental stress and behavioral difficulties in children. The protocol for the pilot study, Protocol for a randomized pilot study (FIRST STEPS): implementation of the Incredible Years-ASLD® program in Spanish children with autism and preterm children with communication and/or socialization difficulties, has been published.

The FIRST STEPS Incredible Years® ASDLD intervention is being carried out in three Spanish public health hospitals, recruiting a total of 72 children diagnosed with ASD or preterm infants with subsequent language delay, randomized to the IY-ASD intervention arm or the usual treatment arm. This is intended as a first step in the generalization of the program within the public health network, as well as for future controlled studies demonstrating its efficacy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intervention is currently being delivered both in weekly online sessions over 6 months and in some cases a hybrid approach depending on the policy for the various communities. Dr. Valencia and her team have consulted with Dr. Webster-Stratton regarding implementing the Autism program with families online with fidelity to the program protocol.

To date, the FIRST STEPS project has finished the groups in the three sites, with very positive feedback from the families. They are in the post-group assessment stage and are hoping to start sharing the results of the trial soon.

New research evaluating the IY TCM program in Ireland

For more than ten years, psychologists from the Irish National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have been collaborating with primary schools in their community and delivering the Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management program. Two new studies evaluating implementation of the IY TCM program in Ireland have recently been published.

The first, Exploring the impact of Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management training on teacher psychological outcomes, included 368 Irish primary school teachers, looking at the potential impact of classroom management training on teacher psychological outcomes. Their findings suggest that there are benefits to teachers’ wellbeing and feeling of self-efficacy from IY Teacher Classroom Management Training as teachers learn positive strategies to manage challenging student behaviors.

The second study, Sustained CPD as an effective approach in the delivery of the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management programme, considered the experiences of teachers receiving IY Teacher Classroom Management program training as part of their continuing professional development. The study found the TCM program to be an effective program for use in teacher continuing professional development. The study highlights the importance of teacher group leaders tailoring the program to the needs of the participants, using the collaborative model, and providing sustained support.

New Meta-Analysis of behavioral therapies for children with ADHD

A new meta-analysis of behavioral therapy programs for children with ADHD, has recently been published: An Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis: Behavioral Treatments for Children and Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

This meta-analysis of programs, including the Incredible Years®, finds that: Children with ADHD, who have severe symptoms of ADHD or behavioural problems, and children with ADHD from single-parent families, should be given priority when it comes to behavioural therapy. If these groups of children are not treated promptly, the problems facing them and those around them increase faster than they do for other groups of children with ADHD.

This meta-analysis was conducted by Annabeth Groenman, PhD, and a team of researchers in the Netherlands at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), VU University Amsterdam, and at KU Leuven, Belgium. Their data analysis allowed them to see which sub-groups responded best to behavioral therapy. The results of Groenman’s research have been published in the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Here is a summary of their findings:

Behavioural therapy reduces the symptoms of ADHD and tackles the behavioural problems facing children with ADHD. It also relieves the pressure on both them and those around them. However, this treatment is not equally effective for all children with ADHD. It is important to understand who responds well to behavioural therapy and who is less suitable for this treatment, so that target groups can be identified more accurately.

Researcher Annabeth Groenman headed a large-scale study that involved a staggering 33 researchers from around the world, who all shared their data about the effectiveness of their evidence-based programs with her. All of the data were used to generate one large dataset. Groenman then reviewed the effects of behavioural therapy on 2,200 children with ADHD below the age of 18. She analysed the effect on the symptoms of ADHD, on the behavioural problems and on the functional impairment that they experienced in their daily lives.

The research shows that behavioural therapy for children with ADHD can help them to control their attention problems, hyperactivity, impulsiveness and behavioural problems. It also reduces the extent to which the children and those around them experience functional impairment due to their behaviour. In addition, the researchers identified a number of sub-groups that respond differently to the treatment. Children with a behavioural disorder as well as ADHD seem to deteriorate while awaiting treatment. This is also true of children with more severe symptoms of ADHD or a behavioural disorder, and children from single-parent families.

The conclusion of this study is that behavioural therapy works. It would also seem that certain groups of children should be treated quickly to prevent them from deteriorating. This applies to children from single-parent families, and children with severe behavioural problems or serious symptoms of ADHD. Groenman would like to see this group of children being offered treatment immediately and not being placed on a waiting list. A prompt intervention with behavioural therapy can help to prevent further deterioration. 

Incredible Years® Seattle applauds this team of researchers in the Netherlands for compiling all this data from multiple studies addressing treatment for children with ADHD and assessing the impact of intervention for those at greatest risk.

In Finland, ongoing RCT evaluation of the Incredible Years® Preschool Basic Parenting Program plus the IY Home Coaching Program for families receiving special services

Piia Karjalainen has completed several RCTs evaluating the implementation of the Incredible Years® Preschool Basic group-based parenting program plus the IY Home Coaching program with families in Finland who have been referred through Finnish CPS to receive special preventative services. In her first study, Group-based parenting program to improve parenting and children’s behavioral problems in families using special services: A randomized controlled trial in a real-life setting, published in 2019, she found that parent reported child problem behavior as well as clinical levels of behavioral problems decreased to a greater extent in the intervention group than in the control group. The intervention also increased positive parenting practices.

In a recently published follow-up sub-analysis, Parents’ perceptions of a group-based parenting programme in families with child protection and other family support services in a real-life setting, she looked at parents’ satisfaction and perceived usefulness of the Incredible Years® parenting program. Parents participating in this study received 19 Preschool Basic parent group meetings and four additional home visits using the IY Home Coaching Program. She found the Incredible Years® parenting program to be a good fit for parents involved with Child Protective Services – 74.2% of parents attended approximately half or more than half of the sessions, and parent satisfaction reports were positive – 85.7% of parents would recommend or strongly recommend the program to others. Additionally, she found the use of positive parenting practices increased in the whole intervention group (both CPS and non-CPS families).


IY Attentive Parenting® Program – New Research!

Xiang Zhou, PhD, a Professor of Counseling Psychology at Purdue University, has recently published a study on the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Program in the Journal of Prevention and Health Promotion – the first empirical study of the Attentive Parenting® Program! His study, “Evaluating the feasibility of the Attentive Parenting® Program as universal prevention with racially diverse families,” looked at attendance rates and outcomes. Dr. Zhou has shared a summary of his research with us.

New Research on Implementing IY® Attentive Parenting Program as a universal preventative intervention for racially diverse populations

Xiang Zhou, PhD

by Xiang Zhou, PhD

As a Counseling Psychologist, I am interested in parent training as a unique form of prevention and intervention which may alter the trajectories of both children and parents. I am also interested in how mental health interventions can be culturally adapted to meet the needs of diverse families. During my training at the University of Minnesota, I have worked with my graduate mentor Dr. Richard Lee, and Ms. Judy Ohm from Wilder Foundation in implementing IY® Attentive Parenting as a universal preventative intervention in a diverse local community.

In this posting, I want to share a summary of a recently published article for a wider audience. The full paper can be accessed either in the Journal of Prevention and Health Promotion (here) or a free preprint version (here).

Why IY® Attentive Parenting Program?

The IY® Attentive Parenting Program is a manualized universal program (Webster-Stratton, 2012) based upon the original IY® BASIC Parenting Program (Webster-Stratton, 2001). It was developed for low-resource settings but can be used as either booster sessions for parents who have completed the IY® BASIC Parenting Program or for prevention purposes within a general population (Webster-Stratton, 2012). The core parenting concepts were introduced in successive sessions: 1) Attentive child-directed play promotes positive relationships and children’s confidence; 2) Attentive academic and persistence coaching promote children’s language and school readiness; 3) Attentive emotion coaching strengthens children’s emotional literacy and empathy; 4) Attentive social coaching promotes children’s cooperative friendships; 5) Attentive imaginative parenting promotes children’s emotional regulation skills, and 6) Attentive creative play promotes children’s problem solving and empathy.

We considered these differences between IY® Attentive Parenting Program and IY® Basic Curriculum:

  1. The IY® Attentive Parenting Program is a minimum of 6 sessions, and the BASIC requires 14 to 18. It has been speculated that parents will be more likely to attend PT regularly with fewer sessions (Heinrichs et al., 2005).
  2. Content also differs (e.g., the IY® Attentive Parenting Program does not cover topics on effective limit setting, ignoring negative behaviors, and timeout).
  3. The IY® Attentive Parenting Program reduces the financial cost compared to IY® BASIC Curriculum

We are interested in implementing IY® Attentive Parenting Program because it is more feasible to provide general parent training for ALL parents and prevent children’s socioemotional and behavioral problems BEFORE occurrence (Webster-Stratton, 2012).

More importantly, children of color under 18 are now the majority in the United States (Vespa et al., 2020). We are particularly interested in how diverse families respond to this preventative intervention. In our implementation, we have also incorporated cultural adaptation as encouraged by the IY implementation guidelines (Webster-Stratton, 2009). For example, during the first session, parents shared their own upbringing and discuss their parenting motivations (Zhou et al., 2018).

Methods: The study was implemented in a naturalist setting with a pre-post design with 155 parents. About 40% of parents were Black, 30% were Asian American (predominantly Hmong), 18% identified as White. Parents reported on their stress level (Parenting Stress Index; Abidin, 1990) and child adjustment problems (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; Goodman, 2001) before and after the intervention.

Major Findings and Implication:

Attendance: Past parenting intervention studies suggest at least 25% of parents who met the inclusion criteria did not enroll, and another 26% enrolled but dropped out before completing treatment. Additionally, the mean attendance rate was approximately 73% among those who attended at least one session, but there was high variability in attendance across studies ranging from 37% to 98% (Chacko et al., 2016).

We found parents attended 71% of all sessions. Pre-treatment conduct problems were associated with lower attendance, whereas pre-treatment hyperactivity problems were associated with higher attendance. It is thus important for clinicians to pay additional attention to engage and retain families who came to the intervention with more conduct problems in the context of a universal intervention.

In terms of treatment effects, we found:

1)     IY Attentive Parenting® Program may reduce conduct problems and increase prosocial behaviors. No statistically significant pre-post changes were observed in emotional problems, hyperactivity problems, or peer problems. These results are previous work suggesting PT is better at reducing externalizing than internalizing behaviors (Leijten et al., 2018; Menting et al., 2013; Mingebach et al., 2018; Yap et al., 2016).

2)     When parents reported a greater concern over conduct problems, hyperactivity problems, emotional problems, peer problems, or prosocial behaviors, they would report more benefits in these respective areas after attending IY.

3)     pre-post change in parenting stress was not significant.

4)     We did not find any differences across racial groups (i.e., White, Asian, Black) across attendance and treatment outcome results, suggesting IY may be culturally adapted and implemented to meet the needs of diverse families

Feel free to contact me at for any questions or comments regarding this study. I also want to take the opportunity to commemorate Judy, who has been a long-time advocate for families in St Paul, Minnesota. She passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer.

Thanks to Dr. Zhou for sharing his research with us! To learn more about the Incredible Years Attentive Parenting® Program, please visit our website.