The Incredible Years® Blog

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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.

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New Resources for Teacher Group Leaders!

If you are an Incredible Years® group leader delivering one of our programs for teachers, check out these new resources!

10 Hot Tips for Mediating Vignettes

Showing the vignettes is an active and reflective process. As teachers view vignettes, group leaders will lead discussions that help them to make sense of what they see in the vignettes, pick out key points what will become “take home” messages for the content area, and help teachers think about how these key ideas apply to their own interactions with their students at school. These conversations will include ways to tailor strategies to meet children’s developmental levels, the cultural context of the classroom, individual teacher styles or preferences, and the goals that teachers have for the children. Rich discussions and key principles often come out of small moments in the vignettes. Check out these hot tips to help select and tailor your vignettes to get the most out of the vignette discussion. This document includes examples for mediating some specific vignettes. Read TCM Hot Tips For Mediating Vignettes.

Editable Handouts and Evaluations for Group Leaders

We have made a number of our handouts editable! Group leaders can download buzz forms, record sheets, behavior plans and more as individual editable files to send to teachers electronically. Check out our Resources for Teacher Group Leaders page and our Resources for Group Leaders Delivering Remotely webpages for our editable handouts. Check out our new form Group Leaders Setting Up Role Play Practices – use this editable document to help plan your Role-Play Practices!

TCM Video Vignettes Are Now Streaming Online!

We are now streaming the Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management program video vignettes!

Features of the Online Streaming Format:

  • Usable on any device with internet connection. No DVD/USB needed.
  • Easy to navigate video playlists for each program part and vignette
  • Unique, secure login for each Group Leader

TCM Group Leaders may now purchase a Program curriculum package with a one-year subscription to the videos online. This option has everything a new Group Leader needs – video streaming subscriptions, group leader manual, books, and accessory materials. Prices start at $600 per person with discounts available for 5 or more subscriptions.

If your agency has previously purchased the full program package with accessory materials, you may purchase a one-year subscription to access the TCM videos online with no additional accessory items. Prices start at $480 per subscription, with discounts available for 5 or more subscriptions.

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

Incredible Years® Program Training is Now 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. Our next Teacher Classroom Management Group Leader Training begins January 28, 2021.

IY Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton will deliver an Incredible Beginnings® Program Training online beginning April 20, 2021.

Visit our Workshop Schedule page for training and registration information!

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The impact of the IY® Autism program on parent feelings of self-efficacy: New research

Incredible Years® Autism Parent Group Leader Victoria Muschietti-Piana recently conducted research into the impact of the IY Autism program on parent perceptions of self-efficacy as part of her graduate studies at Middlesex in London. Her research is a valuable addition to our knowledge about how the program works for families. She has shared a summary of her findings with us.


By Victoria Muschietti-Piana

Victoria Muschietti-Piana

As a Clinical Psychologist training and working in Argentina and the UK for the past 18 years, I am interested in understanding how local authorities can support parents to develop enhanced self-efficacy.  I sought, in particular, to marry my knowledge of Neurodevelopmental disorders to this topic as part of my Masters in Autism and related conditions. The following summary focuses on research conducted in Merton, a Borough in London, during 2019.  The full dissertation can be accessed here.

I trained with Peter Loft in the UK in Incredible Years® Autism Spectrum and Language Delays programme and have spent the past four years delivering early help interventions using Positive Intervention Parenting Training (PIPT). I became interested in applying these techniques to Neurodevelopmental children and their families to observe impacts on self-efficacy. Based on the outcomes of my research I am now encouraging service provision expansion across London to provide better outcomes. 

The Incredible Years® Autism and Language Delays programme (IY® ASLD) was created to promote parenting competence and child development by offering strategies to address social skills, communication and language, emotion regulation, and school readiness in children. The IY® ASLD programme constitutes an adaptation of the IY® programme in 2015 to be used with parents of children on the Autism Spectrum and for those who had language delay difficulties (Dababnah et al., 2019). The programme is specifically designed for parents of children between the ages of 3 and 6. The programme is divided into 8 topics: (1) child directed narrated play; (2) pre academic and persistent coaching; (3) social coaching; (4) emotional coaching; (5) developing imagination through pretend play; (6) children self-regulation skills; (7) using praise and rewards to motivate children; and (8) effective limit setting and behaviour management (Hutchings et al., 2016). The programme uses a collaborative approach, encouraging parents to learn from each other. The intervention is delivered by a trained practitioner who also receives supervision from an accredited supervisor in IY®ASLD (Webster-Stratton, 2015).

Why was I interested in doing this study?

This research assessed if the IY® ASLD programme improves parental self-efficacy. Though parental self-efficacy has been used as an outcome measure in some empirical studies of intervention programmes, there are no studies – neither in the IY® ASLD pilot studies, nor in feasibility studies – where specific measures to identify changes in parenting self-efficacy have been used. would therefore be highly beneficial to test the impact on specific variables Pre and Post parenting interventions.

Methods: This study was part of a natural experiment in one group of participants of the IY® ASLD programme and utilised data from Pre and Post questionnaire completion. This questionnaire consisted of a Tool to measure Parenting Self-Efficacy, the TOPSE scale (Kendall and Bloomfield, 2005). This measure is a 48-item tool with 8 scales. Each scale has 6 statements and represents a different dimension of parenting or ‘domains’ such as: emotion and affection, play and enjoyment, empathy and understanding, control, discipline and boundaries, pressures, self-acceptance, learning and knowledge (Fig. 1). Qualitative information about the participant’s feedback was also obtained from the TOPSE scale comments section (Fig. 2).

Participants were recruited from a Children’s Centre in London where the intervention was being delivered by trained staff who had previous experience delivering other Incredible Years® programmes. Eleven families took part in the study (5 White British, 3 Indian, 1 Pakistani, 1 Black African and 1 white other). The ages of the children, whose parents received the intervention, ranged from 2.5 to 4 years old.

Results: An overall significant improvement in parental self-efficacy Post IY® ASLD parenting programme (Fig. 1a) was identified. Results showed significant improvement in the ‘play and enjoyment’ and ‘learning and knowledge’ domains (Fig. 1b). This can be attributed to the fact that parents have found new ways of playing and enjoying time with their children. Furthermore, the study has highlighted that the programme has taught new and innovative ways of playing with a child, and aiming to increase eye contact, which has shown an upturn in the learning domain. Feedback after the course was entirely positive, and indicative of the benefits of the IY® ASLD programme for improving parenting skills.

Fig. 1. Mean scores for total TOPSE scale (a) and for all domains (b) at Pre (white columns) and Post (green columns) IY® ASLD parenting programme. Columns indicate mean values and vertical bars indicate standard error of the mean. *= indicate significant differences between ‘pre’ and ‘post’ parental self-efficacy programme within each domain’s mean scoring value (paired-sample t test p < .05).

At the end of the programme, there were complementary comments from the participants and they were grouped in six themes based on the main key words that were identified. The frequency of each theme was expressed in percentage (as shown in parenthesis in each Theme in Fig. 2) and calculated from the ratio of the number of participants commenting on each theme and the number of participants that completed the comments section at the end of the course.

‘Building confidence as a parent (Theme 1)’ was the most frequent theme amongst the participants’ comments, as 90% agreed that the course was very helpful to build more confidence as a parent of a child with ASD. This theme was the most frequent aspect that was associated with the majority of the other themes (Fig. 2). A sense of confidence resulted from ‘networking’ (Theme 3), that can be inferred from comments like “sharing ideas with the parents…” or “listening to other parents made me feel confident”. Confidence in self-parenting can be found as a result of the ability to develop new strategies (Theme 2); and/or having tools to calm/regulate the child (Theme 5); and/or being involved in a contention group providing support (Theme 4). During the programme parents learnt how to formulate positive statements about themselves and of each other. This was partly supported by programme facilitators whose role is to encourage parents to set up tangible rewards for their achieved weekly goals. This approach promotes a sense of parenting competence. Parents are encouraged to develop a positive self-talk, which will have an impact on their parental self-efficacy (Webster-Stratton, 2015).

Fig. 2. Thematic map summarising the six main themes identified from participant’s feedback at Post IY® ASLD programme.

Conclusion: The study demonstrated that the IY® ASLD is a cost-effective programme that can be implemented to support families with children with social communication difficulties and/or language delay. Parents with children with neurodevelopmental disorders benefitted from being part of a group and sharing their experiences together. Parents practiced new skills such as: social coaching, regulating their child’s emotions and encouraging language development through role-plays during sessions. In the present study, all these new strategies may have contributed to the overall increase in parental self-efficacy.

Despite the strong evidence that early intervention has positive outcomes in the relationship between parent and child with ASD, limited support is provided in the UK to parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly those with autism. In this context, making use of cost-effective parenting programmes like the IY® ASLD becomes vital to bridge that gap.

Relevance to clinical practice: Delivering the IY® ASLD programme to families whose children have been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, or are still waiting to be assessed, will be of benefit to clinical practice at Children Centres or at other early intervention services.

Victoria works as a Clinical Psychologist in London and has diplomas in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Systemic Therapy.  She has a Certificate in Counselling Children using Art.  Victoria currently conducts autism assessments and is trained in ADOS and ADI-R.  

Cheers to Victoria! Read Victoria’s Dissertation Here!

Incredible Years® Program training is now online! If you would like to receive training to deliver the Incredible Years® Autism program, or any of our other programs, please visit

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Frequently Asked Questions about Online Delivery of IY Programs

We are excited to hear about agencies that are working with families remotely – either to check in with individual sessions or to continue their on-going groups with online tele-sessions. We know that this is a big transition. Check out our FAQs for information on how to deliver online sessions the Incredible Years way.

I need to convert my in-person groups to on-line. Where do I start?

Webinars: We have developed a webinar/in-service, Implementing Online the Incredible Years Way, to help support agencies that are providing IY in a video tele-session format (either individually or in groups).

This webinar/in-service with IY program developer Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton covers how to assess whether a family is a candidate for an individual or group based on-line IY program based on their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, family needs, goals, and children’s responses.  The webinar reviews how to help families prepare for these video tele-sessions. The group leaders will learn the format for delivering the program including how to use the IY methods in a video tele-session, IY principles of video-based discussions, role play practices, number and length of sessions, and engage parents in experiential learning. Pertinent topics are discussed related to coping with social distancing for the parents themselves as well as their children as well as stress management. This webinar also allows time for questions, discussion and problem solving related to the specific population being address with the webinar participants.

Our next Implementing Online the Incredible Years Way webinar is coming up February 17. Please visit our website for registration information or contact Jamila Reid at for more info on this webinar.

Consultation: Hourly consultation with an IY accredited trainer is available for small groups of leaders (2-6 leaders) who would like support in leading groups on-line.  It is helpful when possible to provide the trainer with segments of videos of online program delivery, provided parent and teacher consent has been provided. Please contact Jamila Reid at for more info.

Self-study resources: See these two links for detailed tips on leading parent and child groups on-line.

 Hot Tips For IY Group Leaders Delivering Parent Programs Online

 Hot Tips For IY Group Leaders Delivering Child Programs Online

Website support for group leaders who are leading groups remotely: Our Resources for Group Leaders Working Remotely web page has tips for group leaders, handouts for parents and children, fillable homework record pages, stickers and tool awards to send to parents and children as well as fillable weekly and final evaluation forms.

How many sessions do I need to complete on-line, and how long should each session be?

Session length: Group leaders should collaborate with parents to determine optimal and realistic on-line session length and most appropriate time of day. In most cases for group delivery we recommend 60-90 minute sessions and 45-60 minutes for the individualized sessions. Most families are doing these calls from their own homes, with children present and finding uninterrupted time is challenging especially if they are working from home, doing home schooling or taking care of a sick family member. Many group leaders are delivering these to parents at night after children are in bed. Often at this time parents are tired and a shorter group time will be best to help parents manage fatigue and optimize learning. 

Number of sessions:  Based on our research regarding program dosage, Incredible Years groups have a minimum dosage recommendation. For in-person Basic Parent prevention low risk groups this is a minimum of 14, 2-hour sessions (28 hours) and for Basic Parent treatment/high-risk groups this is a minimum of 18-20, 2-hour sessions (36-40 hours).  Some groups will move more slowly through the material and will need more sessions to complete the program.  Since on-line sessions will be shorter than the usual 2-hour in-person groups, it will take more sessions/weeks to cover the same amount of parenting material.  Moreover, group leaders will also be discussing other family issues such as stress, depression, child anxiety, and family conflict related to the Covid virus situation. The number of sessions offered should be adjusted accordingly to offer at least the minimum number of hours for the type of group conducted (e.g., at least 28 hours for a Basic prevention group) and preferably more sessions.  While this may seem like a daunting number of weeks to work with a group, group leaders may be surprised to find that on-line groups have better parent attendance and that parents really welcome the sustained group support during this time of physical isolation and increased family stress. In some cases you might find it helpful to offer 1 hour sessions twice a week so you can complete this is in a shorter number of weeks and add more frequent weekly support.

Number of participants: It is recommended to have no more than 8 parents per on-line group.  Sometimes you will find 8 parents will involve more than 8 adults because partners and other caregivers in the home can join the on-line group. This is one of the silver linings of on-line home delivery of the program because all those caregivers involved with the child can be on the same page in their parenting approaches. For the treatment version of the program and higher risk families it is recommended to have 4-6 parents online. This allows the group leader to tailor the on-line practices to the developmental level of the child and nature of their language, play and behavior issues.

What materials will the parents or children need for on-line sessions?

For the parent IY BASIC programs it is helpful to send parents the “How I am Incredible” form and complete it ahead of time during your initial assessment interview.  During those initial interview calls you can find out if the parents have a printer or not. If they do have a printer you can send the weekly editable home activities, record sheets, refrigerator notes, thought cards, and brainstorm buzz sheets for each of the main topics ahead of time by email.  This way they can keep their notes on them during the session. If they don’t have a printer it will be necessary to send them each topic packet of materials in the mail ahead of time. You will also need to send them the parent book ahead of time so they can read the suggested chapters each week.  Parents will also need some of their child’s favorite toys, puppets, puzzles and books for use in the practices. 

For the child Dinosaur Small Group and Classroom programs it is helpful to send home via email some of the child dinosaur games, such as bingo, the crossword puzzle and maze handouts or other turtle or teasing shield templates, dot-to-dot games, self-encouragement bubble, calm down thermometer and some of the appropriate social skills, problem solving, anger management, solution lightbulbs and feeling graphics for each topic.  If parents don’t have printers then send these via postal mail ahead of time.  In addition, ask parents to have their children’s blocks, Legos or Duplos, puppets, favorite stuffed animals, or concentrating puzzles available. For each of the dinosaur topics you can tell parents which toys or art supplies, markers and writing books such as the feeling alphabet or secret pals blank books or interview sheets will be needed. In addition, parents are sent dinosaur stickers so they can reward the children for their participation on-line. As well parents are asked to prepare a small snack mid session for the snack break. 

What materials will the group leaders need?

Group leaders will need to have a computer to deliver this program. They can show the video vignettes by putting the vignettes they have chosen for the session on their computer monitor. This can be done with the DVD or USB. Recently we have started streaming our Baby, Toddler, Preschool Basic, School Age Basic, and Autism Parenting Programs, Dina Child Programs, and Teacher Classroom Management Program online so group leaders can access the program videos this way.  See our IY Online page for more information on program video streaming.

In addition group leaders will need their toys, puppets, Wally books and materials for each session topic such as laminated rules and solution cards in the detective kit, spinning wheel, calm down thermometer and examples of what completed activities look like such as the turtle puppet or anger shield. Encourage children to sent you pictures of their activities so you can share them on-line at the next session.   Be sure to dress your puppets differently for each session and have them share their own homework activity.

Download these FAQs for Online Delivery: FAQ’s For Online Delivery Of IY Programs

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

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, IY Program Developer

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

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

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

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

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

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Hot Tips for IY Group Leaders Delivering Child Programs Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was definitely daunting at first; we didn’t know how students or parents would respond, or how we, as group leaders, were going to do it without the classroom interaction. Don’t let those thoughts be discouraging! Our videos aren’t perfect, but they are authentic and responsive to the very real challenges that arrived with the pandemic. Students are struggling with many different and complex feelings, so continued social-emotional support is critical during this time. I love that we have been able to provide some of this support through our virtual Dinosaur School circle time. My coworkers and I never anticipated being on YouTube, but we all agree that it’s been an excellent way to reach students and families in the world of virtual learning. – Emily Shoots, Lead Teacher Facilitator, Palomar Family Counseling Service, Inc. San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

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Faster, Easier, and More Incredible ~ Video Streaming!

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

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

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

Why did we do this?

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

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

How to use streaming?

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


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

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

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

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Hot Tips for IY Group Leaders Delivering Parent Programs Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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