The Incredible Years® Blog

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New Research! The Incredible Years for Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum

Two researchers at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work conducted a study to determine the acceptability and short-term outcomes of the Incredible Years® Parent Program (15- week, preschool basic version) for parents raising preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study utilized a pre-post design (with no control group) reported high parent acceptability of the program. Additionally, total stress related to the child was significantly decreased with intervention effect sizes from moderate to large following program completion (Sarah Dababnah & Parish, 2014). See article abstract on our website.

Dababnah, S. (2015). Feasibility of an empirically-based program for parents of preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder The International Journal of Research and Practice.

Dababnah, S., & Parish, S. L. (2014). Incredible Years Program Tailored to Parents of Preschoolers with Autism: Pilot Results Research on Social Work Practice, 10, 1-14.

A second paper was recently published (S. Dababnah, 2015) reporting qualitative data from individual interviews with parents. Parents reported they benefited most from child emotion regulation strategies, play-based child behavior skills, parent stress management, social support and visual resources. Parents interviews suggested they would like to see  additional vignettes of children with ASD, identify alternative “sensory” rewards and access to visual resources and they also wanted to add more sessions focused on individualized parent self-care and support.

Dababnah, S. (2015). Feasibility of an empirically-based program for parents of preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder The International Journal of Research and Practice.

father and son looking at cue cards

It is interesting this study should come out the same year that a new Incredible Years Parent Program for parents of children (ages 2-5) on the Autism Spectrum or with Language Delays was released. This new parent program includes vignettes of parents and children with ASD and language delays, incentives including sensory activities, visual resources, emotional and social coaching methods, pretend play enhancement, ways to promote children’s self-regulation skills and additional family support. The program can be used as a supplement to the basic IY parenting program or offered separately as a 14-week parent program. See below a short overview video for this program!


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A Word From One of Our Parents

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dreamstime_m_2733423 adjThis summer we were delighted to hear from a mother and her family whose daily lives were improved by attending an Incredible Years® parenting course. We received a message from an IY group leader in New Zealand with an article published by a mother in their group. We were excited to read the article and get in contact with this parent. Ashley and her family went through the course not once, not twice, but three times! In her own words, “It might be possible to be addicted!”

This mother wrote a wonderfully kind article about The Incredible Years® that was published in her local paper, as well as two detailed blog posts (PART 1 & PART 2) dedicated to her experience – which you can find on her parenting blog, The Motherhood Project. Ashley’s blog posts come from an honest and reflective perspective – she discusses her initial hesitance to attend a parenting group and how it eventually helped her family.

“I’ve just finished IYP for the second time! I chose to take the course a second time because it was easy to slip back in to bad habits and I enjoyed the extra support from the group. This time I did it with my partner, which was awesome and well worth the juggle to get time off work, because then we could parent together and support each other. The strategies are simple yet very effective – and they really work! What I love most about The Incredible Years® is that it is based on a foundation of a respectful relationship with your child. We adopt an attachment parenting approach in our home and The Incredible Years® builds upon that. Thus, parenting is more positive-focused using these techniques and each day with our children is happier.

Interacting with other like-minded parents is a blessing; a support network we need. The facilitators guide the group to adopt the techniques, one at a time, into home life so the changes are sustainable. We enjoyed each week of our course. I highly recommend it to every family, because there is something there for everyone. Imagine the difference in your home if you don’t have to spend so much time yelling and debating with your children! In particular with kids on the spectrum (we have one), the strategies really worked for him. I really love that all the techniques are life skills so we are setting our children up for success.”

It is so incredible to hear about their experience using the program and the effect it had on their lives as a family. Thank you Ashley for your willingness to share and be open about your experiences. These stories are what keep us going!

– The Incredible Years®  Team

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Guest Post: Center for ADHD in Denmark

The Center for ADHD in Denmark implements Incredible Years® Parent Training

Guest post by Tea Trillingsgaard

No cost and no entry conditions

In Aarhus, Denmark, the Center for ADHD invites parents of young children with ADHD or related behavioral difficulties to attend the Incredible Years® Parent Training program at no cost and with no need of referral or diagnosis. And this approach works!

Effective strategy

Results from a new research study in press in Scandinavian Journal of Psychology[1] show that Danish parents who self-refer to free parent training have children with symptom levels similar to those found diagnosed ADHD samples. Furthermore, when benchmarking results from the Danish program against comparable studies by Carolyn Webster-Stratton and her colleagues[2] in recent US studies, the Danish version was as effective with regard to reducing ADHD symptoms, reducing disruptive behavior, and enhancing positive parenting practices. (Find links to articles at the end of this post.)


The story of Center for ADHD

The Center for ADHD was founded in 2010 by Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, a MsO psychologist and member of the LEGO family, who wished to reduce long wait lists for diagnostic evaluation and increase easy access to parenting support for families of young children struggling with ADHD or related behavioral difficulties. Agnete Kirk Thinggaard also serves on the board of Edith and Godtfred Kirk Christansens Foundation, which supports the center.

What else is going on?

The staff at Center for ADHD consists of a secretary and six psychologists who, in addition to conducting The Incredible Years® Basic program, train and supervise teachers, day care providers, education and social workers and others working with children with ADHD or related behavioral difficulties. Center for ADHD is continually collaborating on research projects carried out at the Aarhus University.

Center for ADHD Staff

The staff at the Center for ADHD, saying hello from Denmark!

[1] Trillingsgaard, Trillingsgaard, & Webster-Stratton (in press). Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Click here to read article.

[2] Webster-Stratton, Reid & Beauchaine (2011; 2012): Click here to read article.

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Parent Testimonial: “It does work!”

This past week we received an e-mail from one of our parent group leaders in Colorado. She shared with us a lovely testimonial, written by one of the parents who had just completed a 14-week parent group. This parent expresses her experience with the class, and we wanted to share it with you all!


Message from the group leader: 

I wanted to share with you this e-mail I received after finishing the Incredible Years parenting program last night. We were so touched by the e-mail that we wanted you to see it. I have facilitated the group for the past 8 1/2 years for a total of at least 17 sessions and I continue to get responses like this one.

Message from parent:

I just wanted to thank you both for the wonderful set of parenting classes that we just finished. At first, when we started, I thought, “Oh My! 14 weeks! That is a long time…”

Then, while we were doing the classes, my thoughts turned into “Oh my! How am I going to remember all this and put it into practice??” 

As we went on, I was feeling sad and deprived if I had to miss a class… it was such a great reminder to stay on track with what we had learned until then, because little by little, each piece of the puzzle was fitting perfectly and it was all starting to make more and more sense…

By week 14, I saw how necessary it was to actually have all that time for all the information provided, to make sense and to be able to learn to apply it. It works…. no matter how reluctant we may have been at the beginning, you won us over. It does work! 

This class was a life changing experience for me. It taught me that being a parent is the most important job in my life and that it was also the one that I had the least coaching, education and training for. Now, I can see how I can help my children become better people. This class taught me that… it made learn and mature and be a better parent, and that is just priceless. I will never be able to thank you enough, never.

I wish that every parent would be willing to do the class and commit to do it, the effort that it takes to do it compared to what you get out of it has NO comparison. Now I feel more confident on how to behave with my kids, how to be a better mother, a better wife and I feel so much happier. Thank you for giving me this gift. It is a wonderful feeling and I very much appreciate it.


Additional comments from parent:

The way it us all set up with child care and food, it just does not get any better…

The information given and the way it was presented was extremely useful and I got the book to keep reminding me what to do if I ever feel lost. It was absolutely wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone in a heart beat. Thank you for offering this program, it was a treat and joy.

~The Incredible Years Team

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Incredible Years® Building Blocks For Head Start (Part 1)

Benefits of Parents and Teachers Working in Partnership in Head Start: Promoting Children’s
Social Emotional Development and School Readiness (Part 1)

Written by: Carolyn Webster-Strattonheadstart_fb

There is a lot of buzz going around right now about promoting quality Early Childhood Education. We know this is a vital time in children’s lives, where they are learning important lessons about problem solving, engaging with peers, cooperating with teachers and parents, and more. Providing extra support for parents, teachers and children during these early school years can result in lasting skills which will help to reduce aggression and behavior problems, while increasing positive social interactions and academic competence. The Incredible Years® programs ( aim to do just that, and in this two part series we hope to shine a light specifically on using the Incredible Years® series in a Head Start context.

headstartquote3Numerous randomized control group studies over the past 2 decades have shown that using the Incredible Years® (IY) Parents, Teachers and Children’s Training Series in Head Start or Sure Start (in United Kingdom) results in significant improvements in classroom observations of children’s social competence, emotional literacy, and problem solving with peers. Additionally, there are increases in child cooperation with teachers, engagement with school activities, school readiness and reductions in children’s aggression in the classroom. According to both parent and teacher reports, parent involvement in their children’s school activities as well as with  teachers was significantly improved compared to Head Start control families’ reports.


Study #1: Effects of IY Basic Parent Program In Head Start

The first study was carried out in 1998 to examine the effectiveness of the IY parent program for Head Start families. The sample included 426 Head Start mothers and their 4 year old children who generally faced multiple risk factors, including 85% receiving welfare, 55% single parent status, 42% moderately depressed and 28% with substance abuse problems. Approximately 37% represented minority group status, including Asian, Hispanic and African American families. Seven Head Start centers were randomly assigned to either the intervention condition or regular Head Start services.

In the intervention condition parents received the IY Parent basic program (9 sessions held weekly for 2 hours) which was delivered by trained family service workers. Additionally, Head Start teachers participated in a 2-day workshop to familiarize them with the IY parent program. Training for both parents and teachers covered the importance of parent-teacher communication and parent involvement in Head Start.


Results showed significant improvements in blind observations of the intervention group parent behaviors including fewer critical remarks, less harsh discipline and more nurturing and responsive parenting compared with the control group mothers. In turn, the children of intervention group mothers had fewer behavior problems than control group children whose behavior remained unchanged. Intervention group teachers and parents reported significant improvements in children’s behaviors and teachers also reported increases in parents’ involvement and contact with schools. Parent satisfaction with the program was very high with most parents requesting that the program continue longer. One year later, improvements in intervention mothers’ parenting skills and children’s behavior were maintained according to home observations and parent reports.

Webster-Stratton, C. (1998). Preventing conduct problems in Head Start children: Strengthening parenting competencies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(5), 715-730.

Study #2: Added Benefits of Longer IY Parent Program plus the IY Teacher Classroom Management Program

In 2001, another study looked at the effectiveness of offering a longer, more comprehensive IY parent program alongside the IY teacher program. The sample included 272 Head Start mothers and 61 teachers. As in study #1, many of the families faced multiple risk factors and 63% represented ethnic minority groups. Fourteen Head Start centers (34 classrooms) were randomly assigned to either intervention or control groups.

hsquoteIn the intervention group, parents received the Basic and Advance IY parent programs (16 sessions held weekly for 2 hours).  The material included school readiness training (pre-reading and writing skills) and parent problem solving skills. At the same time, teachers were trained in the IY Teacher Classroom Management Program, which focuses on building relationships with students and parents, proactive discipline and ways to promote student’s social and emotional competence. Teachers received 6 full day workshops spread throughout the school year. The parents in the Head Start control group received their usual services which included some parent education.

teacher-block_wadcResults indicated improvements for intervention group parenting interactions, including more responsive, positive parenting and less negative interactions than control group parents. Parent-teacher bonding was significantly higher for intervention parents who attended six or more intervention sessions than for control group parents. Intervention group teachers had higher scores on classroom management skills than those in the control group. Children in the intervention group showed significant improvements in conduct problems at school and better social skills competence compared with control children. Results indicated significant changes regardless of the ethnicity of the family and high consumer satisfaction scores.

Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., & Hammond, M. (2001). Preventing conduct problems, promoting social competence: A parent and teacher training partnership in Head Start. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30(3), 283-302.


More IY Parent and Teacher Studies with High Risk Populations by Independent Researchers

In addition to the developer studies (described above), Dr. Judy Hutchings and her team (in Wales) have conducted studies evaluating the IY basic parent program in Sure Start  (a similar program to Head Start in the UK, for economically disadvantaged families). Short and long term outcomes were impressive for the entire sample, replicating those achieved by the developer, including similar high retention rates. Good outcomes were also achieved for children from the most disadvantaged, typically hard-to-engage families with clear evidence that change in parenting behavior mediated changed child behavior.

Additionally, the Wales team evaluated the IY teacher programs as well as parent programs with positive outcomes in terms of changes in teacher and student outcomes.

Bywater, T., Hutchings, J., Daley, D., Whitaker, C., Tien Yeo, S., Jones, K., et al. (2009). Long-term effectiveness of a parenting intervention for children at risk of developing conduct disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 195, 318-324.

Hutchings, J., Bywater, T., & Daley, D. (2007). A pragmatic randomised controlled trial of a parenting intervention in Sure Start services for pre-school children at risk of developing conduct disorder: how and why did it work? Journal of Children’s Services, 2(2), 4-14

Gardner, F., Hutchings, J., & Bywater, T. (2010). Who benefits and how does it work? Moderators and mediators of outcome in a randomized trial of parenting interventions in multiple ‘Sure Start’ services. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39, 1-13.

Hutchings, J., Daley, D., Jones, E. E., Martin, P., Bywater, T., & Gwyn, R. (2007). Early results from developing and researching the Webster-Stratton Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Training Programme in North West Wales. Journal of Children’s Services, 2(3), 15-26.

Other independent replications using randomized control group studies have been conducted utilizing the Incredible Years Parenting Programs in the United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, Holland and Portugal. Some of these studies use the prevention version of the program and others are offered as treatment programs for children with conduct problems and ADHD.

See Incredible Years web site for these articles:


Despite the successful research by the developer and other researchers in 5 other countries, there are still many challenges ahead – of course including the potential funding restrictions arising from cuts in government funding. Early intervention requires sustained support from politicians, agency directors, trainers, mentors and coaches. 


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Dr. Webster-Stratton attends Washington DC forum, Leans In with Marilyn Monroe

Hello and Happy Friday!

Earlier this month, Carolyn Webster-Stratton presented at the Institute of Medicine forum in Washington D.C., “Strategies for Scaling Tested and Effective Family-Focused Preventive Interventions to Promote Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health: A Workshop.”

The workshop included a variety of presentations examining “effective family-focused interventions at sufficient scale and reach to reduce the incidence and prevalence of negative cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes among youth in the United States.” (

Carolyn presented information about the Incredible Years programs, potential barriers to implementation/fidelity, and ways to overcome these barriers. Below is a video of the full presentation, which can also be found on YouTube and on the Institute of Medicine website!

Additionally, while there, Carolyn had a chance to “meet” Marilyn Monroe (a statue in the hotel lobby – she looks very realistic!) and found yet another good chance to “lean in”


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Guest Post – New Meta-Analysis looks at Effectiveness of Incredible Years®!

We have some exciting news to share!

This marks our FIRST Guest Post, courtesy of Incredible Years® Developer, Carolyn Webster-Stratton! Dr. Webster-Stratton has taken the time to write a summary of a new meta-analysis that has just been published, examining the effectiveness of the Incredible Years® Parent program. The full paper can be purchased online, here.

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Summary of Meta-Analysis Examining the Incredible Years® Parent Programs

Written by Carolyn Webster-Stratton

A new meta-analysis paper has just been published by a Dutch team. This review examines the effectiveness of the Incredible Years® parent training to reduce disruptive behavior and promote social competence in children.  Fifty studies were conducted where the Incredible Years® parent program was compared with a comparison control group by various researchers. Findings indicate that the Incredible Years® program is successful in improving child behavior, particularly for the most severe cases, and with a diverse range of families in different contexts.  The parent program is considered by this review to be well-established. These positive findings which are comparable across a range of studies may be interesting for policymakers, agencies and practitioners.  
Take a look at this meta-analysis which separates prevention from treatment studies and assesses intervention, child and family characteristics, and effect sizes for different outcomes. Number of sessions attended by parents was positively related to intervention effects.
The authors write, “The Incredible Years® program might have capacity to be tailored to specific characteristics and needs of families in spite of being manualized group training. Group leaders can achieve flexible applications of the manual and help parents learn to use the parenting principles to achieve their own determined goals.”


Ankie T.A. Menting, Bram Orobio de Castro, Walter Matthys, Effectiveness of the Incredible Years Parent Training to Modify Disruptive and Prosocial Child Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review, Clinical Psychology Review, Available online 22 July 2013, ISSN 0272-7358, (

We are very excited about this review! We hope you will share this with others who may be interested in the research and/or the Incredible Years®.

~The Incredible Years® Team