The Incredible Years® Blog

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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.

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Building Blocks for Reading with Extra-CARE for Young Children on the Autism Spectrum and with Language Delays

by Carolyn Webster-Stratton

Reading with children is a powerful way to build their language skills.  We have new handouts for parents and teachers with children on the Autism spectrum and with language delays, to help them learn to tailor their reading to children’s interest and developmental level.

Extra-Care reading involves parents and teachers providing children on the Autism spectrum and with language delays with added opportunities for language development, joint attention and social interaction. To start, take extra care to choose a book with a topic the child is emotionally interested in, perhaps something from the child’s “like list”. For example, if the child likes planes, trains, cooking, or a particular animal, pick a book on this topic. This will help you to enter the child’s interest spotlight. Choose books with pictures, very few words and sensory activities, if possible, with flaps and hidden objects that allow the child to open and close flaps, to touch different textures and provide different smells.

Comment strategically according to the child’s language level.
The amount of commenting you do will depend on the extra-care you take in first understanding the child’s receptive and expression language ability. Children will lose interest if your verbal language is too advanced or hurried. Remember this is all about encouraging joint attention and showing you are attentive to the child’s interests and are keeping the communication interaction going.

Avoid open-ended questions, pace your commenting, and repeat often.
For children with receptive and expressive language delays, asking questions when reading can be intimidating and cause withdrawal, anxiety and confusion because the child doesn’t understand and may think you don’t understand them. Instead strategically decide what words you want to encourage, allow time for the child’s response (verbally or nonverbally) and then imitate their response. This will show you are interested in them. If the child repeats your sound effects, or gesture, or word, imitate that again so the child sees how their response is affecting your response. Be sure to smile and have eye contact when you do this.

Respond and listen with interest. Wait and pause before talking again so the child has time to respond.
When the child responds with a smile, or gesture, or sound effect, or words, enthusiastically respond to these responses verbally and nonverbally whether or not your child seems to be making sense. Always act as if you understand what the child is saying! Imitate the child’s gestures, sounds and words. The goal here is to not only encourage the child’s interest in books and to get into his or her spotlight, but also to engage in joint attention and positive interactions.

Expand on what the child says.
For a child with no language you can use hand signals to model the action, or use the actual object as you name it, or use one of your child’s likes (song, touch or favorite object) to add more excitement to the joint reading interaction. For children with some words use the one-up rule and add an additional word. To combine social interactions with reading, read to two children at the same time and prompt language in both children. Occasionally surprise children by doing something unexpected such a variation on the story such as a different and humorous word, or naming the object or feeling incorrectly, and then correct yourself. “Ooops my mistake!” Make games out of a book by covering up a picture with sticky notes and guessing what is under there, or what comes on the next page. Sing a song using the word you are encouraging. End the reading with the routine of an “all done” and hand signal.

• Keeping the reading fun and simple using the “one up” principle to decide how much language to use when reading.
• Showing kindness and avoiding commands and criticism when children are reading.
• Allowing children to reread stories as often as they wish. This is a pre-reading skill and leads to mastery and confidence. Once the child has learned the story you can add partial prompts to see if they will fill in the blank.
• Slowing down and building repetition with an enthusiastic tone.
• Reading so children can see your face and expressions.
• Singing at times during reading.
• Using hand signals, gestures, sound effects, and objects to enhance reading understanding
• Making sure there is a back and forth quality to the reading and you are not simply reading without requiring some response or connection with the child before continuing to read.

Download Reading With Extra-CARE with Children with Autism & Language Delays (for Parents)

Download Reading With Extra-CARE with Children on the Autism Spectrum (for Teachers)

Join IY Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton for Autism Parent Group Leader Online Tele-Session Training
Dates: June 8th, 10th, 15th, 17st, & 22rd, 2021, 8:00am – 11:15am PST
Venue: Online (Zoom)
Led by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD
Cost: $775 per person

June 2021 Autism Parent Training Brochure & Registration Info

New! Incredible Years videos for Autism Programs now available online!

Video Streaming subscriptions may be purchased for the Autism Parenting Training Program or the Teacher Autism Program – Helping Preschool Children with Autism as a Training Program Package. This program package option has everything a new Group Leader needs – one-year video streaming subscription, group leader manual, books, and accessory materials.

Autism Parenting Program Video Streaming

If your agency has previously purchased the full program package with accessory materials, you may purchase Videos Only – a one-year subscription to access the videos online with no additional accessory items.

Teacher Autism Program: Helping Preschool Children with Autism Video Streaming

Learn more about program video streaming on our website!

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Using the editable “How I Am Incredible!” handout to help tailor to children’s developmental levels

The How I am Incredible! handout is used to help parents share information about their child’s developmental level including language and play level, temperament, and likes and dislikes. In addition, parents share their family support network and goals for their children.

This editable form can be emailed to families individually, can be completed when doing your first individual interview with families, or can be started in the first IY group session or home coaching visit. This process is valuable because it helps group leaders and other parents have more detailed knowledge of each child’s unique development and their similarities and differences in regard to their language, play level, and academic readiness and goals.  At subsequent meetings, parents can continue to add to the editable form more details about the child’s developmental goals and motivating antecedents. They will add notes of any new discoveries they make as they engage in social and emotional coaching during child-directed play. Parents will note which strategies are especially helpful for supporting their child’s goals.

Throughout the program, when group leaders are showing vignettes, they can refer to completed How I Am Incredible forms for information about each of the children, and can set up tailored role-play practices based on the children’s developmental language & play levels and parent goals. For example, a practice may be set up with a child who has very limited language focusing on modeling language in a paced way with gestures, objects, pictures, fun sound effects and frequent repetition and imitation. After this role play is completed and debriefed, the group leader will select a another child from a group parent to practice how this language will look for a child with typical language focused on pre-academic skills such as naming numbers, colors, shapes, positions and letters. Group leaders can set up several large group practices unpacking the differences in approach for 2-3 target children to demonstrate the developmental differences before breaking up parents in to dyads for practice.  Dyads will be selected to match parent participants who have target children at similar developmental levels. After the dyadic practices, parents will share their learning so that everyone learns principles of tailoring based on the individual needs of children.

We have developed editable versions of the How I Am Incredible handout for parents of children aged 3-6 (for the Preschool Basic program), for parents of children aged 6-12 (for the School Age Basic program), and for parents & teachers of children on the Autism spectrum or with language delays.

Download How I Am Incredible for the Preschool Basic program (English, editable)

Download How I Am Incredible for the Preschool Basic program (Spanish, editable)

Download How I Am Incredible for the School Age Basic program (editable)

Download How I Am Incredible for the Autism Parenting program (editable)

Download How I Am Incredible for the Teacher Autism program (editable)

Join IY Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton for her Webinar: Implementing Online the Incredible Years Way

Group Leaders will learn to tailor IY groups for online delivery!
Date: Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 9:00am – 11:00am  PST
Venue: Online (Zoom)
Led by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD
Cost: $200 per person

April 2021 Online Webinar Brochure And Registration Info

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Role-Play tips for group leaders!

Set up Frequent Role Plays or Practices in Group
Setting up numerous role plays or practices for parents is critical to parents’ learning processes. From the discussion, you may think that parents understand the principle or topic, but when you see them practice “in action” you will have a better idea of their ability to put their ideas into real-life behaviors. There can be a discrepancy between how parents cognitively would like to behave and how they actually behave. It can be very difficult to think of the right words to use with children and manage angry thoughts and stressful feelings when children argue or disagree, or to follow through with consistent responses. Role play practices help parents to rehearse their behavior strategies, practice staying calm and using positive self-talk, and to get feedback from group leaders and other parents about their skills. Here are some tips for successful role plays.

Plan your role plays: We have a new editable handout to help you plan your role play practices! Download Group Leaders Setting Up Role Play Practices (editable)

Setting up a Large Group Role Play Practice: Most of the time, practice should first be done in the large group so that you can scaffold and support the practice. Then parents can move into small groups to practice what they saw modeled in the large group practice. When this is not done, parents often get confused about what they are supposed to be doing. First, remember you are the “director” of the role play and get to choose the actors, set the stage, and determine the script and roles for the things you want practiced. Always make sure that you have covered the content prior to doing the role play. Then start with a simple role play that will illustrate the concept and achieve your learning objective for the practice.

Rather than ask for volunteers, select a parent you think understands the behavioral concept and can successfully play the role of the parent. Invite the parent to help you, e.g., “John, would you come up and help me by being the parent in this next role play.” Then choose a parent to be child. “Sally, will you be your child who is fearful and afraid to take risks?” Parents, rather than group leaders, should be the role play participants. Parents will learn more from being in the practices themselves. If you are in the role play, you will not be able to effectively scaffold or debrief the process.

Set the scene and build a script: Set up the role play by letting participants know the age of the child, developmental level and temperament of child, and what the child and parent will do. First, ask the group for ideas for how the parent should respond to the particular situation being set up. For example, “So in this practice, our parent is going to be practicing persistence coaching and Seth is going to be the child who is inattentive and wiggly and has difficulty staying on task. Our parent is going to use persistence coaching. What words can she use for what behaviors?” Using the parents’ suggestions, walk the parent through their part in the role play before the role play starts. Give instructions to the child, letting them know whether they should be cooperative or noncompliant. If they will be noncompliant, let them know if there are any limits (e.g., you should fuss and whine, but please don’t throw things or hit). This is very important because you don’t want the role play to require management techniques that haven’t been taught yet.

Supporting the practice: Both the leader and co-leader can serve as coaches for the role play. Often one leader supports the role of the parent and the other supports the role of the child. As the role play proceeds, freeze the scene at any time to give the parent feedback for her effective skills, or to redirect, or to clarify something you didn’t explain well. Provide the parent role with plenty of scaffolding so they can be successful. Group members can also be asked to suggest ideas if the actor participant is stuck.

Defining the practice: Always debrief each role play. It can be helpful to start by asking for positive feedback from the group about the parent’s effective skills: “What did you see Thomas doing well? Or: “What principles of ignoring did Maria use?” Also debrief with the person playing child and playing parent afterwards to find out how they felt during the practice. When applicable rerun the role play with a different response using the ideas of another parent. Sometimes you may want the person playing “child” to try the scene being in role as “parent” so they can experience practice with this different approach.

Ideas for spontaneous role plays: There are many role plays or practices suggested in the leader’s manual. However, try also to use spontaneous role plays that emerge out of a discussion of a difficulty a particular parent is having at home and is asking for help with. When parents feel you are directing these practices at their own real issues with their children at home, they are very grateful for this support and understanding. Sometimes a parent will begin to enthusiastically describe a success they have had with their child. These are perfect opportunities for the group leader to ask, “Can you show us what you did? It would be helpful to see it in action and help us learn from your experience.”

Caution: Never set up a spontaneous role play that deals with a topic that the parents have not yet covered in the program. So, if in an early session, a parent brings up a misbehavior, you would not set up a role play that involves discipline. You might set up a role play that helped the parent think about how to use the social coaching or praise for the positive opposite behaviors. It would be important to coach the child in the role play to be responsive to the coaching and praise and not to misbehave. Then reassure the parent that in future sessions you will cover what to do if the child still misbehaves.

When doing these role plays, it is helpful if one leader is sitting next to the parent in role as parent and the other leader next to the child. In this way, the leader can whisper to the parent suggestions for words to use if they need help and the other leader can make sure the parent in role as child is exhibiting behaviors than can be praised or attended to or safely ignored. Providing this scaffolding for practice sessions will make the practice more successful, useful and supportive.

Download these Hot Tips for Group Leaders Setting Up Role Play Practices

Join IY Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton for her webinar:

Implementing Online the Incredible Years Way
Date: Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 9:00am – 11:00am  PST
Venue: Online (Zoom)
Led by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD
Cost: $200 per person

April 2021 Online Webinar Brochure And Registration Info

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Support for Group Leaders pursuing Certification/Accreditation while delivering remotely

We are so pleased with how group leaders have been implementing groups online during COVID! Group leaders have been writing to ask if they can begin the certification process now, during online group delivery, and if their remote IY parent video tele-sessions (individual or group) can count towards accreditation/certification in the IY programs that they are delivering.

We want to encourage group leaders to pursue certification, even during this unprecedented time! The certification/accreditation process is considered to be of value for many reasons, especially in that it maximizes the quality of group leader delivery and program fidelity. It is believed that certified leaders implementing the IY programs will achieve results similar to those in the published literature. While we do not have any research into delivery in the online format, we want to be flexible, to meet the needs of families for parenting support at this challenging time, and also to support group leaders to continue to deliver high-quality intervention with high fidelity.

If you are interested in beginning the certification process, we encourage you to submit your first video for review from an on-line group. Our IY trainers will review the video and give the same extensive feedback as reviews provided with in-person delivery.  This allows group leaders to get valuable feedback and supervision during this period of remote delivery. However, we are not accepting online group videos as the final video prior to passing for accreditation.  The reason for this is that we do want to make sure that leaders can demonstrate all the skills in an in person group.  So, for leaders who are submitting a 2nd video, we can’t count an online recording, although we are happy to review and give continued feedback to these group leaders during remote delivery due to COVID. On-going professional training and supervision is important to assure quality delivery using the online tele-session format.

When group leaders are ready to submit their application paperwork (after passing the video review of their in-person group), we are currently accepting paperwork with one complete group/cohort delivered in the online format, and one complete group/cohort delivered in an in-person format. Again, we want to make sure that leaders have sufficient experience with in-person groups prior to becoming accredited.  View our Remote Session Accreditation Information handout for additional info.

Ready to get started with certification? Please visit the Certification section of our website for application forms and additional information.

We have developed a webinar/in-service to help support group leaders and agencies who are providing IY in an online tele-session format (either individually or in groups). This webinar, Implementing Online the Incredible Years Way, is delivered by IY Program Developer Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton. Group leaders will learn the format for delivering the programs online, including how to use IY methods in an online tele-session, IY principles of video-based discussions, role-play practices, number and length of sessions, and experiential learning. Pertinent topics are discussed related to coping with social distancing for the parents themselves as well as their children. This webinar also allows time for questions, discussion, and practice of these skills with the webinar participants. Feedback on this webinar has been overwhelmingly positive! Our next webinar is coming up Wednesday, April 14th. Download the brochure/registration form for this upcoming webinar.

Hot Tips For IY Group Leaders Delivering Parent Programs Online

Hot Tips For IY Group Leaders Delivering Child Programs Online

Receive Consultation/Supervision with our IY Trainers live over Zoom. On-going professional training and supervision is important to assure quality delivery using the online tele-session format.  Online consultations offer opportunities for more consultation and in small groups, even with dyads. Consultation calls can include a discussion of video segments (a 10-20 minute clip) shared with the IY Trainer for review. Or, consultations may be a discussion of questions and issues related to program delivery. Online consultation calls are typically 1 hour in length and can include multiple group leaders and agency managers.

Online Consultation Tips for Group Leaders

Online Consultation Call Prep Form

Video Review for Group Leaders Live over Zoom. Our trainers are now scheduling to deliver video reviews toward certification/accreditation live over Zoom!  We hope that group leaders will find this collaborative approach to the video review process beneficial.  Learn more about the process for receiving video review feedback live over Zoom: Tips For Video Review Live Over Zoom

Join us for Incredible Years Program training – online! Incredible Years is currently offering our trainings in an online format. Just like the in-person trainings, our online trainings are intended to be highly interactive and collaborative. Attendees should plan for active participation in discussions and practices.

View our workshop schedule page on our website.

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Advance Parenting Program for Building Relationships – a valuable teaching tool during these stressful times

At this time families are experiencing more conflict due to the stress of physical isolation, home schooling, and economic challenges. The Advance Parenting Program for Building Relationships is designed to help families learn to listen to each other, speak up about difficulties, manage stress, reach out for support, and problem-solve parenting and personal issues. Parents of older children (aged 8-12) learn how to set up family meetings where children and parents can talk about a problem, work together to discuss solutions, and set up a family team plan.

The Advance Parenting Program builds on the Preschool and School Age Basic Programs by promoting parents’ interpersonal skills such as effective communication and problem solving skills, depression and conflict management, and ways to give and get support. Parents learn to partner with teachers in problem-solving and developing child behavior plans.

Goals of the Advance Parenting Program:

Supporting Family Relationships, Building Support Networks and Problem-Solving
• Improve parents’ conflict management and communication skills.
• Help parents learn how to cope with depression and life stress.
• Help parents learn how to build support networks.
• Help parents learn how to problem-solve related to children’s problems.
• Help parents learn how to problem-solve their own interpersonal problems.
• Help parents learn how to problem solve with teachers.
• Help parents learn how to teach their children to problem solve.
• Help parents of children (ages 8-12) learn how to set up family meetings.

Learn more about the Advance Parenting Program

Incredible Years Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton will be delivering an Advance Parenting Program Group Leader Training in April!

Advance Parent Group Leader Online Tele-Session Training
Dates: Tuesdays & Thursdays mornings, April 6th – 15th, 2021, 8:00am-11:15am PST
Venue: Online (Zoom)
Led by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.
Cost: $620 per person
Please Note: The Basic Parent Group Leader Training is a prerequisite to the Advance Training

April 2021 Online Advance Training Brochure And Registration Info

Watch Preview clips from the Advance Parenting Program for Building Relationships

Active Listening, Speaking Up, & Communicating Positively

Problem Solving Meeting: In this clip, parents begin their problem-solving meeting by defining the problem they are having with their child’s behavior.

Giving and Getting Support

A Supportive Friend Helps Find Solutions: In this clip, a mom has been brainstorming solutions focused on meeting her son’s needs. A supportive friend helps this mom remember that it is important for her to take time for self-care. Together, they brainstorm ways to get support.

Teaching Children to Problem Solve: Family Problem-Solving Meeting

Family Meeting About Household Chores: In this clip we see a father defining the problem and inviting his sons’ ideas for solutions.

Learn more about the Advance Parenting Program

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Using the Tool Metaphor for Building Parenting Skills – New Resources!

When helping parents learn key principles it can be useful for parents to see these as “building tools” they are learning to use from their parenting tool kit.

Using the Incredible Years Tool Kit Posters (set of 3)

First poster“Building Positive Behaviors”

The first IY tool kit poster can be used to help parents learn the key “building tools” for strengthening positive behaviors.  When a new parenting principle is identified in group discussions, group leaders can name it using the corresponding tool picture from the Incredible Years Tool Kit poster. Group leaders can expand on this building metaphor by explaining to parents a hammer is not the best tool for fixing every problem; rather it may be better to use the capacity building, foundational scaffolding, and nurturing tools to support healthy social, emotional, and academic growth. Parents will learn that the bottom level of the parenting pyramid focuses on tools that they will use liberally such as attention, child directed play, narrated commenting, praise, support, relationship building, shaping, and support. On the next layer of the parenting pyramid parents learn how to use specific academic, persistence, social and emotional coaching to help their children identify and manage feelings, persist with learning despite obstacles and develop friendly social interactions and language. Once parents have built a firm foundation, they often find they have fewer child problems to manage.

2nd poster – “Reducing Misbehavior”

As the group moves up the parenting pyramid, parents learn new tools to reduce target negative behaviors.  These are used more sparingly. Tools such as predictable routines, rules, and respectful limit setting provide a predictable structure for children’s exploratory behaviors and drive for independence, assuring their safety. Next parents are taught the least intrusive proactive discipline tools, such as ignoring, redirection and distractions, and, finally, at the top level, discipline tools for highly aggressive and dysregulated behaviors.  Parents learn how to choose the most appropriate parenting tool based on the child’s needs, goals, and the underlying reason for the misbehavior.

3rd poster – “Staying Calm”

Integrated throughout the program are tools parents can use for controlling upsetting thoughts, stepping back from stress and anger, and regaining focus on what is essential. Parents learn the value of patience, modeling, self-care, getting support, using calming self-talk, and problem solving. Parents first apply these tools to support their own emotion regulation, and then to learn how this modeling benefits their children’s development and sense of security. The tool kit metaphor helps parents realize all the different parenting strategies they have in their tool kit that will help them weather some of the uncomfortable, but inevitable, storms of parenting and life events.

We have NEW RESOURCES group leaders can use to reinforce these tools with parents!

Tool Award Certificates

To supplement the tool kit poster, we also have tool awards that group leaders can use to celebrate parents’ successes as they master the use of each tool. These are editable so group leaders can fill in parents’ names and print out or email the tool awards. For example: Leon’s social coaching award or Matilda’s emotion coaching award.

 Download the set of Tool Award Certificates – Individual Editable

Download the set of Spanish Tool Award Certificates – Individual Editable

Parent Weekly Self-Reflection Inventory: Tools I Used This Week

Another way to acknowledge parents’ hard work is to give them their own sticker charts!  This mirrors the way that they will learn to use reward charts with their children.  For parents, these are self-reflective charts, and parents learn to self-praise and reward themselves for their hard work. We have developed 3 self-reflective charts, based on the 3 tool kit posters, that encourage parents to reflect on what they have accomplished each day. Parents are encouraged to set up a fun activity for themselves for reaching their goals.

You can download these below:

Parent Self-Reflection Inventory: Weekly Tools Used To Build Positive Relationships (Editable)

Parent Self-Reflection Inventory: Weekly Tools Used To Stay Calm & Get Support (Editable)

Parent Self-Reflection Inventory: Weekly Tools Used To Manage Misbehavior (Editable)

Visit our website to purchase a set of the Parenting Tool Kit Posters (set of 3 posters). These posters are available in English and new Spanish.

Additional resources for parent group leaders are available on our website.

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New Tips & Resources for Autism Program Group Leaders

New Hot Tips for IY Autism Programs: Using Visual Pictures to Enhance Children’s Understanding of Verbal Language
by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.

Many children are visual learners. This is especially true for children on the Autism Spectrum. Why is this? Perhaps children with ASD or language delays have more difficulty processing verbal language because auditory information is presented quickly, is transient, and is more complex. Pictures, on the other hand, are fixed images so the child can take as much time to process the information as they need. Seeing it, rather than just hearing it, can help the child process and retain the information. In this document we will talk about how parents and teachers can use visual images to enhance a child’s understanding of verbal requests and to provide a way for the child to improve communication with others.

We all rely on visual prompts or supports such as calendars, daily schedules, checklists, stickie notes, or street signs to make sense of the world, to know what is expected, and to keep ourselves organized. For children on the Autism Spectrum, picture visuals will help reduce some of the confusion of understanding verbal input. Visuals provide information in a way that is easier to process. Better understanding provides children with security, a sense of predictability, and understanding of the rules. Visual prompts also give children another way of communicating their preferences and needs to their parents, teachers, and peer group. They will help the child to be calm and more relaxed and also help promote children’s language development, joint attention, and interactions.

Download the new Hot Tips for Using Visuals to Enhance Children’s Understanding of Language

Here are a few tips to remember:

• Put visuals in place where they will be easily found and used by the child and adults. For example: on a key ring, on the refrigerator, or on a low table.
• Target which activities, requests, or social interactions you want to start with; stay simple and avoid using too many new visuals at the same time
• Use real objects when teaching what the picture represents
• Add the printed word to the visual picture
• Use the same words for the picture every time. Don’t use too many words, be simple and clear
• Prompt the child to look at the picture, wait for his response, and then imitate or repeat his response
• For sequenced pictures, preview the sequence by pointing and saying each step. “First, teeth (point to toothbrush), “then story” (point to book). Then review by pointing to each step as the child is engaging in that part of the routine.
• Actual photographs of the child doing the activities or behaviors can help the child make sense of what will be happening
• Add more pictures to the picture routine schedule as the child’s understanding of the pictures increases
• Provide multiple learning trials for communication by providing small parts of the activity or item at a time. For example, if the child asks for a banana, apple, or cookie just give a small piece so he can ask again for the next piece. Or, if he asks for cars, just give 1-2 to start.
• Use the visuals to cue or prompt a child to understand an adult’s request, make a request, indicate a choice, understand what will happen next and what to do, try a self-regulation strategy, or practice a targeted social interaction
• Remember that picture books are also an ideal way for children to learn about the meaning of words. Read in an interactive way to provide the best communication learning experience. Download our handout Reading with Extra CARE for parents and Reading With Extra CARE (for Teachers) for tips on reading to children on the Autism Spectrum in a way that promotes communicative interactions.

More Hot Tips for the Autism Programs

In the Hot Tips for Autism document Communication Translation: Combining Body Language, Sounds, & Words to Enhance Comprehension we highlight how the parent or teacher can act as a communication translator for their child by carefully selecting and pacing the number of words to model and by using the “one up” rule to name or describe objects, actions, and positions. This method uses word imitation, repetition, interesting sounds, tone of voice, nonverbal gestures and body language to help children process language and communicate. These approaches help to turn on the child’s voice and enhance their understanding of the meaning of words and their realization that their words and/or gestures are a way to indicate their wants and needs. Download our Hot Tips for Autism document Communication Translation: Combining Body Language, Sounds, & Words to Enhance Comprehension

In the Hot Tips: ABCs of Child Learning & Behavior Training document we talk about the ABC of behavior change; that is, using the child’s favorite activity as a motivating antecedent (A) to engage them in practice of a targeted behavior (B), followed by the rewarding consequence of getting the desired activity (C). It can be helpful to make a list of special rewarding activities that a child can choose after he has worked hard on a particular task. “When you finish putting on your shoes (show picture of shoes), you can pick grapes or oranges to eat (show grapes and oranges for child to choose).” Or parent can pre-choose the reward activity based on knowledge of child’s likes: “Teeth first (show picture of tooth brush), then story (picture of book).” Download our Hot Tips: ABCs of Child Learning & Behavior Training

Hot Tips For IY Autism Programs – Using The How I Am Incredible Template (download). The “How I am Incredible!” handout is used to help parents share information about their child’s developmental level including language and play level, and sensory likes and dislikes. In addition, parents share their family support network and goals for their children. This form is completed in the first IY parent group session or home coaching visit and helps the group leader and other parents learn about the children in the group. During the first session parents jot down what they know about their child at that time and share it with other parents. In subsequent meetings, parents add details about their child’s specific developmental needs and make notes of any new discoveries they are making as they engage in child-directed play & coaching with their child, and develop strategies that they find helpful in supporting their goals. This form is also referred to by IY group leaders when tailoring role play practices geared towards each child’s unique developmental level and language level. Please also see: Hot Tips For IY Autism Programs – Tailoring Role Play To Child Developmental Level (download).

Hot Tips for using the “Getting into Your Child’s Attention Spotlight” Poster: The Incredible Years Autism Programs for teachers and parents emphasizes the importance of getting into the child’s spotlight. This metaphor means that the teacher or parent strives to enter the child’s world view, or spotlight of attention, by joining their preferences in games, following their lead in play and preferred activities. It is important to do this even when the child’s spotlight of activity may seem unconventional, repetitive, and narrow. Adults can get into a child’s spotlight by imitating what the child is doing in play, by repeating their actions, using gestures, sounds, and words, or by engaging in physical games or songs the child enjoys. When teachers and parents do this, they will capture their child’s attention and interest and the social interaction will become as or more interesting than the child’s normal repetitive play. This spotlight approach will eventually result in the child being more likely to tune into others, watch them and want to be with the person who has entered their spotlight. As children become more interested in others, there will be more opportunities for them to observe and learn from the behaviors that others are modeling. The goal is to promote the child’s social interactions and interest in communicating with others. Once the child feels safe including an adult in his spotlight, parents and teachers can expand the spotlight to include new ways of playing, helping noticing what peers are doing, including them in the play, and helping them learn from the modeling or imitating actions or words of others. Download our Hot Tips for using the “Getting into Your Child’s Attention Spotlight” Poster.

Additional resources and tips for group leaders are available on our website.

New! Incredible Years videos for Autism Programs now available online!

Video Streaming subscriptions may be purchased for the Autism Parenting Training Program or the Teacher Autism Program – Helping Preschool Children with Autism as a Training Program Package. This program package option has everything a new Group Leader needs – one-year video streaming subscription, group leader manual, books, and accessory materials.

Autism Parenting Program Video Streaming

If your agency has previously purchased the full program package with accessory materials, you may purchase Videos Only – a one-year subscription to access the videos online with no additional accessory items.

Teacher Autism Program: Helping Preschool Children with Autism Video Streaming

Learn more about program video streaming on our website!

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Hot Tips & Resources – Buzzes and Thoughts Cards

Buddy Buzzes

During your groups you can ask parents to “buzz” with another parent, to share and write down their ideas for a particular topic (e.g., establishing a bedtime routine, recording “positive opposite” behaviors of negative behaviors, rewriting negative thoughts or negative commands, or sharing calming strategies). When setting up these buzzes, plan ahead of time which parents you will pair up with each other. The benefit of doing a paired buzz instead of a group brainstorm is that every parent is immediately engaged in a task and involved in coming up with solutions. In large group brainstorms, perhaps only half the group contributes ideas and the other half is disengaged, or quiet, or distracted. After the buzz (3-5 minutes) is completed, each buddy can report on their buddy’s ideas and these can be recorded by the co-leader. These are fun for everyone – try them out! Be sure to use the buzz handouts in the leader’s manual for these exercises.

Thought Cards

During the buzzes, particularly for those that involve cognitive work related to self-praise, calming thoughts, challenging negative thoughts, setting goals for behaviors to be ignored, managing stress, or identifying their positive opposite behaviors, give parents either a buzz handout or thought card (which can be downloaded from our web site) to use to write down their agreed upon ideas. The more you can get parents to commit to 1-2 clearly defined behaviors or specific word or thought statements to practice at home the better the learning. For example, if parents are very self-critical and have difficulty with positive coping self-talk, after group brainstorming ask parents to write down the specific self-statement that is their favorite thought that they will try to rehearse that week. By practicing one thought statement over and over again it is more likely to become an established pattern of thought. You might consider laminating some of the key statements or thoughts on these thought cards so parents can keep them at home as reminders.

Download our editable Thought Cards – these can be emailed to parents individually.

Thought Cards (Individual, Editable)

Thought Cards in Spanish (Individual, Editable)

Editable Buzz Forms

Download our editable Buzz forms – these can be emailed to parents individually after each session.

Incredible Buzz Form (good for any program or session)

Baby Buzz Form

Toddler Buzz Form

Parent Buzz Form (for Preschool or School Age parent groups)

ASD Parent Buzz Form (for Autism Spectrum & Language Delays Parenting Program)

For more Hot Tips, download our Hot Tips for Parent Group Leaders!

Visit our website for more Group Leader resources.

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How the Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management Program Is Trauma Informed and Promotes Students’ Resilience and Recovery

by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD, Incredible Years Program Developer

An increasing body of research identifies the long-term impact and health harm to children’s learning and behavior due to chronic stress or a traumatic or frightening event. Collectively such childhood stressors are called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  ACEs experiences can include physical and sexual abuse or neglect, witnessing domestic abuse and violence, parental drug and alcohol problems, incarceration of a parent, severe accidents, natural and human-made disasters such as an earthquake or tornado, or a pandemic such as the Covid-19 virus, violent or accidental death of a parent, sibling or important relationship figure, parental separation or divorce, and exposure to terrorism, or refugee conditions.

Research has also shown there are protective factors that promote the resilience and recovery of children exposed to multiple ACEs.  These include positive trusting, loving, and safe parent and teacher relationships, positive and supportive peer friendships, predictable rules and routines, and support to develop positive social, emotional, and academic skills. Teachers and parents working together to help children cope in healthy ways with traumatic events can have a major impact on their long-term emotional, educational, and health outcomes. One documented factor that significantly impacts children’s response to trauma is the amount and quality of trauma-related emotional support that children receive. Parent and teacher support and appropriate responses to their symptoms has been found to be a significant predictor of children’s mental health outcomes in several outcome studies (e.g., Cohen 2007).

What does it mean to be trauma informed?

This is an approach where the teacher is trauma-sensitive and considers the possible impact or link of trauma on children, their behavior, relationships with others, learning and their symptoms. The teacher uses cognitive, affective, and behavioral principles as well as relationship building skills involving the school, child, and parents to overcome the negative effects of traumatic experiences. 

Being trauma informed begins with an understanding by the parent, teacher, and child about the specific trauma or complex traumas that the child experienced and the child’s symptoms, emotional reactions, and current triggers. It also includes education about normal psychological and physiological responses to trauma and how teachers can reinforce the students’ accurate cognitions about what has occurred. It involves teachers offering hope and reassurance to the student and parents that the child’s symptoms will improve with support and trusting relationships. Other aspects of trauma-informed teaching include therapeutic approaches woven into the classroom such as affect literacy and self-regulation, cognitive and behavioral coping strategies, and support from parents, teachers, and peers.  

All of the IY parent, teacher and child programs focus on positive parent-teacher-child relationship building, child directed play, four types of adult coaching methods (academic, social, emotional and persistence coaching), praise and incentives, predictable routines and rules, positive discipline, teaching children problem solving and building support groups. These methods are central to creating a safe and secure home and school environment and helping children persevere and become resilient in the face of adversity and traumatic experiences.

Key Points about Delivering IY Teacher Classroom Management Programs that are Trauma-informed and Promote Students’ Resiliency and Hope

Creating Students’ Sense of Belonging, Connection and Trust

• Teachers help students develop a sense of belonging and resiliency by developing nurturing and trusting relationships with them and by using persistence, social, and emotion coaching in child-directed play individually and in small groups

• Teachers set specific goals for students’ social, emotional, and cognitive development as well as academic development

• Teachers improve student’s sense of belonging by building collaborative and honest relationships with their parents to enhance consistency and predictability of responses across settings

• Teachers help students to feel a sense of connectedness with peers by  setting up support groups, normalizing their responses to traumatic events by helping them understand they are not alone and that others have experienced similar traumas and by reinforcing accurate cognitions about what has occurred

Creating Students’ Sense of Control, Predictability and Safety in the School Environment

• Teachers help students feel they are in a safe and secure environment when there are clear, predictable routines and transitions, agreed upon rules, consistent limit setting, opportunities for choices, proactive discipline, and a strong teaching pyramid foundation of relationship building, coaching methods, praise and encouragement in a planned and strategic manner

Helping Students Learn to Self-Regulate

• Teachers help students learn to self-regulate by listening and supporting their ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Teachers also work to understand potential trauma triggers that can result in the child’s misbehavior and understand how to manage and help children cope with these thoughts and responses

• Teachers help children learn to self-regulate by teaching deep breathing methods, positive imagery, positive self-talk, and how to ask for what they need in order to feel safe and loved

• Teachers use puppets to help students discuss and practice solutions to problem situations and to involve their peers as support in this learning

• Teachers help children learn to self-regulate by modeling calm, patient, and predictable responses to their students’ misbehaviors

Teachers Building Support Networks

• Teachers understand the value of developing their own support networks through their teacher group experience, sharing of ideas and problem solving. This support helps them cope with the stress of managing their student’s trauma reactions

• Teachers practice self-care through reflection, relaxation, and mutual support.


Working with students who have experienced trauma is a difficult balancing act for teachers. Teachers learn to recognize, acknowledge, and understand the harmful impact of their students’ past traumatic experiences on their learning,  and development as well as the way that these experiences are manifested in students emotional and behavioral responses. Teachers work to support these students and their families and to hold out hope for the future of successful healing. Because this teaching work is emotionally and intellectually challenging and can lead to teacher  “compassion fatigue”, it is important that teachers are supported by a school-wide trauma informed approach where teacher peer support and wellbeing is encouraged so that they don’t feel alone and have the energy for this work. This requires a school commitment to a partnership and interdisciplinary team-based approach between counselors, teachers, parents, and administrators to help guide students in their recovery. Moreover, it is important to remember that trauma-informed practices such as building children’s self-awareness, self-regulation, feeling literacy, empathy, teamwork, and ability to problem solve should not be seen as something extra.  This approach benefits all children, not just those who have been trauma-affected in terms of social, emotional, and academic success. It should be the core of teacher practices.

Read the full article here.

Read how Trauma-informed Incredible Years Approaches help families and children here.

Read How the Incredible Years (IY) Child Dinosaur Social, Emotional and Problem Solving Curriculum Prepares Children to Cope with Trauma here.