The Incredible Years® Blog

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The Incredible Years® Conference in Denmark

  • by Malene Lundgren & Carolyn Webster-Stratton

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The Incredible Years® Conference in Denmark at Hindsgavl Castle on the 14th of May was a huge success, with almost 200 participants.  The purpose of the conference was to gather all Danish interested parties and make it a fresh start for the Incredible Years® Programs in Denmark.

The conference was opened by the director of the Center for ADHD Helle Hartung.

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The first theme was Carolyn’s personal, fascinating story about the creation and development of the Incredible Years® programs.

Next, Marie Louise Rimestad presented her research on the mediating factors/active ingredients in the Basic parent program.

Maria Møller Cassøe and Line Møller Sletting gave a presentation about the important role of play in the Incredible Years® program. And they presented a play suitcase with items to support the transfer of learning and play activities from session to home.

group photo.jpgThere is a lot of Denmark interest around the Incredible Years® Autism Program for parents and the Incredible Beginnings® program for day care providers and preschool teachers of children ages 1-5 years, so people were listening very carefully to the overviews of these programs that Carolyn Webster-Stratton gave in the afternoon. A perfect ending of a wonderful day.

The framework for the fresh start for the Incredible Years® in Denmark could not have been more perfect.


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Anton Rasmussen, Administrator, and Barbara Palmer, IY Mentor

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Dreams can come true! The Genesis Program in Ireland delivers the Incredible YearsⓇ Suite of Programs in Schools

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton

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I normally write blogs about my travels and not my work engagements. However, this time I want to share my recent experience in Ireland. I feel that I went to heaven for a few days.

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a classroom in Dundalk

As developer of the Incredible Years (IY) Programs in the 80’s, I began with a dream that intervention programs designed to promote young children’s social, emotional and language development should be offered to parents and teachers in day care centers, preschools and primary grades. I believed that providing children as young as possible with a solid social and emotional foundation would lead to better academic learning as well as reduced violence and depression later in life. When I was invited by the Genesis Program in Ireland for the launching of their Linking the Learning document I had no notion that I would experience that this dream had largely come true for this amazing community.

The Genesis Programme is a consortium of Partner Organizations delivering the IY suite of parent, teacher and child programs to communities, early years services and schools in Dundalk and Drogheda in County Louth as part of the Area Based Childhood (ABC) Program, funded by The Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

10 Year Birthday Celebration

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Arriving in Drogheda at my hotel I was surprised by an invitation to the 10 year birthday dinner celebration of the beginning of The Genesis Program’s delivery of Incredible Years Programs.

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Benny and Hugh

At this event were parents, teachers, principals, group leaders and community leaders who were present at the birth of this program. Not only was the food great but there was Irish music and dancing followed by the best cake I have ever tasted. (I took a piece back to my room for breakfast.)

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There were even cupcakes with marzipan faces of Wally, Molly and Dina dinosaur on them. Surely I was having a delightful dream!




Since its struggling first efforts in 2008 funded largely by foundations, the eventual formal establishment of The Genesis Program was in 2014 with the financial support (ABC) of the Irish government. To date the Genesis Program has trained 71 IY group leaders in one of the IY baby, preschool, school age parent, or teacher, or child programs; 19 public health nurses; 50 early years practitioners (preschool teachers of children 3-5 years); and 664 parents. Additionally, 531 teachers and early years practitioners have been trained in either the IY Teacher Classroom Management Program, Classroom Dina Programme or Small Group Dina Program. The programs are embedded in 12 schools and 15 early years (aka preschool centers). The Genesis Program is the first organization world wide to roll out the newest program called Incredible Beginnings designed for teachers and day care providers of children aged 1-5 years. They have delivered 5 Incredible Beginnings training groups and already have 2 accredited group leaders. They have also begun delivery of the new parent program for children on the Autism Spectrum. Approximately 7,903 children have been reached with these IY programs. Their current plans are to deliver 81 IY programs in 2018!

In September 2017, The Changing Lives Initiative came into being.  This initiative delivers the 20-week parent program to parents whose children display signs and symptoms of ADHD, but who are not yet diagnosed with ADHD. The program is funded through Interreg funding provided by the EU.

Incredible Schools and Children

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At this 3-day event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the birth of Incredible Years in Louth County, I visited 10 schools (with Wally and Dina dinosaur) to see child dinosaur groups being delivered by incredible teachers to children in preschools and primary grade classrooms. Several schools also had pull out dinosaur small group programs for children with more severe behavior problems. These schools included the following:

Classroom.jpgSt. Joseph’s NS

Lios na nÓg

Springboard Project

Gaelscoil Dun Dealgan

Scoil Eoin Baiste

Redeemer Creche

St. Patrick’s NS/St. Brigid’s NS/Clever Cloggs

Moneymore Childcare Centre

St. John’s JNS

Marymount NS

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I was welcomed in these classrooms with joyful glee, gifts, cards and dinosaur songs from children as well as role play demonstrations by children of how they have learned to come up with solutions to problem situations.

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cards from all of the children plus a framed picture done by the girl holding it



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One classroom even welcomed me with pictures of the American flags they had colored!





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Dinosaur School delivered in Irish language

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The feeling of joy was pervasive the moment I entered these schools with pictures of Wally, Molly, Dina Dinosaur and Tiny Turtle painted on the hallway walls, posters everywhere of IY solutions, school rules, and Wally feeling pictures as well as school entrance ways showing framed photos of parent graduates from IY parent programs.

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Incredible Principals and Teachers

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St. John’s Primary School was the first school to start IY programs, 10 years ago.  Dympna MacKenna, Principal

I was met by energetic and welcoming principals from each of the primary schools and early years services who glowed as they described the successes of their teachers using the IY programs with their students.Carolyn w- principal.jpg

One principal told me, “if we weren’t offering this program I think I would have quit.” Another principal said, “ 10 years ago I was yelling at children who misbehaved and they were sent to me for discipline, now I go to them to reward them and help them problem solve. This program has transformed out school.

In one school I was fortunate to watch the children’s dinosaur school graduation where a classroom sang Dina’s compliment and show me five rules song.

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an Early Years School

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incredible teachers

Incredible Parents

I also met with parents at each of these schools who talked of their partnerships with teachers and principals and how their children loved school.

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graduates of IY Baby program

In both Dundalk and Drogheda there were graduation ceremonies and celebration lunches for 74 parents who had completed one of the IY parent programs. Parents received framed certificates of their graduation and gave speeches reflecting on their experiences participating in these IY baby, preschool and school age program groups bringing tears of joy to those in the room as well as an overwhelming feeling of community support and caring for each other.


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graduates of IY Basic Parent Program

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A parent who attended the first group 10 years ago is now an accredited group leader and part of the Genesis team


Incredible Group Leaders
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Finally on the last day there was a celebration lunch of all the IY group leaders who had completed accreditation in one of the IY programs. 25 Group Leaders were recognized on this day and received a glass memento to mark their accreditation.


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Accredited IY Group Leaders

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Alice Malone, Quality Assurance Coordinator

The Genesis Program place a high value on coaching, fidelity and accreditation and provide support to Group Leaders in all aspects of delivery. They have developed a set of Best Practice Guidelines for each Group Leader delivering the program and encourage them to deliver with fidelity to ensure they get the best outcomes for children and families in their respective communities. Alice Malone plays an invaluable role as the quality assurance coordinator as well as being an accredited group leader and peer coach who supports group leaders with her warmth and humor.



Genesis Incredible Team

It was a truly incredible and magical experience to see parents, teachers and principals, early years managers and community leaders joined together in a partnership to support children’s optimal development. The Genesis Program Project team made up of 12 committed people have developed a supportive infrastructure and network not only by training teachers and parents but by continuing to support and coach them after training so that they can be become accredited in the programs.

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the incredible Genesis team

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Hugh Doogan, Program Manager

The Louth county is a community that is an incredible model for other communities. They are led by Hugh Doogan the Genesis Program manager whose collaborative, nurturing, and supportive leadership approach inspires magic in his Genesis staff who in turn inspire teachers and parents who in turn inspire children to enjoy the magic of learning with the help of some life size puppets.





Launching the Linking the Learning Document

Carolyn linking learning.jpgGenesis invited me to celebrate and help launch a document called Linking the Learning. This document has two parts one for Early Years Practitioners (preschool teachers) and one for Primary Grade Teachers. The idea behind the document was to illustrate how the suite of Incredible Years programs (Dina Dinosaur and Teacher Classroom Management Curriculum) link with the Irish Early Years National Quality Curriculum Framework (Siolta) and the Aistear/Siolta Practice and Principles of Learning and Development.  Additionally the document illustrates how the IY programs are linked to the Irish Primary School Curriculum Framework (SPHE) and support oral language instruction, the Health Promotion Framework and academic achievement. They have developed Best Practices guidelines for each of the IY programs.

As the developer of IY programs, I feel I have had the easy job of doing the research and developing the training protocol plan. Just as for the architect of a building plan, for the construction to be successful it takes the competent leadership of the on-site construction manager (Hugh Doogan) to select the best subcontractors (group leaders, coaches) and builders (teachers, parents) to make sure they are building the house with a strong foundation. It has been my dream come true to see this collaborative effort with continuing efforts to promote accreditation of the subcontractors and to develop peer coaches so there is quality control going forward. I wish there was someway to bottle the Genesis and Louth community magic and send it forth to other communities.

Please click here to read the Genesis report Linking The Learning (PDF)



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Caroline White selected to advise Parliament Select Committee on early intervention

IY Trainer Caroline White has been asked to be a Specialist Advisor to Parliament on early intervention, to advise on implementation science for the Science and Technology Select Committee.

This announcement comes after Caroline was requested to attend the House of Commons Select Committee for Science and Technology on Early Intervention last month. With her Manchester Local Authority colleague, Shirley Woods-Gallagher, Caroline presented evidence on early intervention to the expert panel with members of parliament.


Caroline and Shirley are currently working with Andy Burnham, Manchester’s first Elected Mayor, for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Manchester plus 9 surroundings boroughs, total population 2.7 million). They are working with GMCA to embed more evidence based, early intervention across all 10 local authorities.

Caroline writes: “Being on the Expert Panel was a great experience, having MPs from across all parties asking questions about early intervention, outcomes, data and evaluation, and implementation. My main focus was to emphasize what we have known for decades – early intervention is better for child and parent outcomes, and also saves money. It’s great to be involved and to have some potential influence over policy and practice.”

You can watch Caroline’s presentation to the expert panel last month at:

Congratulations to Caroline! We are excited that you will have the opportunity to share your expert advice!


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New Zealand provides a unique cultural training environment for delivering Incredible Years Programmes

  • by IY Mentor Tania Anstiss and Mentor-in-Training Lisa Herewini

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Incredible Years in Aotearoa/New Zealand continues to grow and develop in exciting new directions! The importance of Māori as tangata whenua (indigenous people of our land) underpins the partnership between the team at Werry Workforce Whāraurau and our Māori and Pacific communities. This collaboration informs the ways we continue to support innovative delivery of the Incredible Years Programme in a culturally responsive way.

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Werry’s Incredible Years mentor-in-training and Māori Advisor, Lisa Herewini, provides an important leadership role in this work. A range of opportunities are offered to the workforce to ensure they are supported to meet the unique needs of whānau (families) in New Zealand.


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Trainees stand outside the wharenui (traditional Māori meeting house)


In partnership with local iwi (tribe), Werry Workforce Whāraurau recently offered an IY Basic training workshop on a marae (a traditional and sacred community space).

Working together to provide training in such environments helps develop a shared understanding of how best to meet the needs of Māori whānau (families). It also enables integration of cultural understandings, metaphors and practices into our Incredible Years mahi (work).

The intention of such events is to provide a full cultural experience alongside the standard training process and content. Participants have indicated that this approach is valuable to them and all trainees at this recent event indicated the experience was a good ‘cultural fit’ for Māori Incredible Years Leaders. The expertise of Incredible Years mentors like Lisa, who can hold perspectives from two cultural world views adds significant value to this unique training experience.

Naku te rourou nau te rourou

Ka ora ai te iwi

With your basket and my basket

The people will thrive

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New Zealand rolls out Incredible Years Autism and Language Delays Programs for Teachers and Parents

Kia ora,

The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Werry Workforce and Massey University are introducing the Incredible Years Parent and Teacher Programs in New Zealand. The Ministry of Education had an open tender process in 2017 and selected participants for these training workshops. Selection was based on group leaders’ extensive experience delivering the IY basic parent program or the IY teacher classroom management program as well as experience working with children on the autism spectrum. Also consideration was given to locations of particular regions and organizations who applied. Seven different districts, 4 on the north island and 3 on the south island were represented for this first training with Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton, the developer.

For the Parent Autism Program 20 accredited IY basic parent group leaders and 4 IY parent mentors met for 3 days in Auckland at the Grand Mercure hotel for training in the Autism Parent Program.

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Participants in the Autism Parent Group Leader Training, representing The Ministry of Eduction, Werry Centre, Napier Family Centre, Incredible Families Centre, Motueka Family Centre, and Presbyterian Support Upper Southland.

For the Teacher Autism Program 16 accredited IY teacher group leaders and 2 IY teacher mentors met for 2 days of training in how to use this program as a supplement to the IY Teacher Classroom Management Program. There were 5 participants who attended both trainings who had prior accreditation in both parent and teacher programs.

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Carolyn really enjoyed working with these experienced and energetic group leaders who are clearly passionate about their work with parents, teachers and children on the spectrum. Many had been working with this population for 8-10 years and in the field of psychology, social work or teaching for much longer.

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The meeting opened February 19 with a Maori welcoming ceremony led by Rawiri Wharemate the kaumatua from Werry Workforce and Piripi Daniels from Ngati whatua in Orakei who also works for the Ministry of Education in Auckland.

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One of the days of this meeting managers met to talk about implementation issues and in the evening to hear a presentation by Carolyn giving a brief overview of the Incredible Years Programs and research, particularly focused on the Autism programs with some video examples. She also talked about the Incredible Beginnings Program for young children (1-5 years) for training day care providers and early childhood teachers.

The message was the earlier the intervention the better. She applauds New Zealand Ministry of Education for being the first country to roll out this program nationally and for their careful collaboration and evaluation plans.

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To learn more about the training opportunities in the Incredible Years Autism programs, please visit our website.

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Impressive outcomes from Incredible Beginnings® course in Brinnington, England

Incredible Years Trainer Caroline White and mentor-in-training Joanne Singleton have brought the Incredible Beginnings® curriculum to teachers and child care providers in Brinnington, England, and have shared their positive outcomes with us.

Brinnington Incredible Beginnings® Programme

  • by Dr Caroline White, Accredited Incredible Years Trainer

The Incredible Beginnings® programme was trialled across two settings in Brinnington and involved a 6 day training course (one day per month for six months) to the team of 12 staff in total.


In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Incredible Beginnings® course participants were asked to complete standardized questionnaires on the children’s behaviour and also on their own professional practice at the beginning of the course and also after its completion. The following measures were used:

  • Sutter-Eyberg Child Behaviour Inventory (measures child behaviour difficulties)
  • Incredible Years Teacher Questionnaire (measures teacher strategies)


The Sutter-Eyberg is a standardized, valid and reliable measure of children’s behaviour in classroom settings. It was completed by all keyworkers on the children in their settings. The questionnaire gives two scores relating to frequency of behaviour problems (total score) and intensity/impact of behaviour problems (problem score). Both scores showed significant improvements with children moving from clinical ranges of problem behaviour to normal ranges for behaviour in their settings.

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The Incredible Years Teacher Childhood Checklist is a questionnaire designed to measure changes in practice in classroom settings. The results demonstrated significant changes in participants’ practice which included increases in strategies to:

  • improve children’s social and emotional development
  • improve relationships with parents and children
  • improve classroom transitions
  • improve management of challenging behaviour

Quotes from participants:

“I’ve noticed that the children’s language development is coming on much faster now”

“The settings are so much calmer”


“We had visitors who asked us what had happened. They couldn’t believe how calm and quiet the setting was with so many two year olds”

“It’s been much easier to settle the last group of new children into nursery”

“Transitions from one activity to the other are so much easier now”

“We’re not handling challenging behaviour as much any more”

In summary, the feedback on impact from the participants was:

  • that the settings were much calmer overall
  • that children were on task more
  • that children’s language development had improved faster
  • they had less challenging behaviour to deal with
  • they felt more confident in dealing with challenging behaviour
  • that their most recent intake of children was much easier to settle and that these children settled much faster using their new skills


The impact of the training was impressive with changes in participants’ practice and significant impact on children’s development and behaviour. It is worth noting that the implementation of the learning benefitted hugely from the excellent management and strategic commitment dedicated to this process. Time was protected for all participants to attend the training with the appropriate resources in place. In addition, the whole team embraced the opportunity for new learning and integrated this learning into their existing structures openly and effectively.

Please visit The Incredible Years website to learn more about the Incredible Beginnings® Program for working with early years teachers and childcare providers.

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IY Mentor Jane Davidson – supporting early years teachers with the Incredible Beginnings® Program

Our incredible Mentor, Jane Davidson, has just completed her second Incredible Beginnings® Program course for Dorset County Council, and has shared her exciting experiences and great results with us.


Mentor Jane Davidson and Incredible Beginnings® course graduates

Jane and her co-facilitator, Clare Williams, worked with early years teachers and childcare providers from Dorset. These providers reported that it was very helpful to learn about early childhood development, communication, and attachment in the early years. They took on the use of descriptive commenting, social & emotion coaching, and praising the positive opposite and saw the benefits of these strategies pay off in their classrooms. Here is a sample of the amazing evaluations from participants in Jane and Clare’s Incredible Beginnings course:

“It’s making a massive difference – some children are practicing calming down and the staff feel like they have a strategy that gives them support rather than boxes and referral. Also have seen the staff using the blow out candles in stressful times – myself included!”

“It’s so powerful and rewarding to be able to discuss tricky children with such a knowledgeable and professional audience. Jane and Clare work very well together as a team and it was great to share Jane’s vast experience and knowledge of the Incredible Years programmes.”

“Really really loving this course and I think more practitioners should attend as it will transform their setting, their staff and most important the children’s early years experience”

“It’s great…to be able to discuss our children’s behaviour and devise strategies as a group. Fantastic group work on praising the positive opposites and using and sharing real examples – very powerful.”

“This course…makes you look at the child and what support they need, and gives you strategies…. Giving practitioners and parents ‘smell the flower, blow out the candle,’ turtle, etc. helps support the child, parents, and practitioners and especially helps children self regulate” 

“I have found the whole course quite emotional. I strongly believe I have looked at what we do and looked, really looked, at the children’s behaviour. Through constant praise and taking time to develop a close relationship with my target child, I feel everything can only improve. Both Jane and Clare are amazing, I have loved listening to you both, loved how down to earth you are and how genuinely interested you are in what everyone has had to say. You have celebrated our successes and I truly believe that all Early Years practitioners should take this course.”

The Chief Executive of Dorset County Council has been so impressed with the results that she highlighted the implementation of the Incredible Beginnings® Program in her end of year blog message to staff last month, giving her thanks to the early years providers participating in the Incredible Beginnings® Program for their commitment to supporting the emotional health and well-being of young children.

Jane continues her commitment to supporting early years providers, including offering refresher sessions for graduates, and finding ways to network new Incredible Beginnings course attendees with graduates to see the ways they are implementing IB strategies in their classrooms.

The third cohort of Dorset early years providers will complete the Incredible Beginnings® Program next month, with two more cohorts of providers set to be trained this spring and fall.

Thanks to Jane Davidson and her colleagues Clare Williams and Helen Shorrocks for making such a difference to early years teachers and childcare providers!

Please visit our website to learn more about the Incredible Beginnings® Program for working with early years teachers and childcare providers.