The Incredible Years Program: A Combined Parent–School Intervention
The Incredible Years Program (Webster-Stratton, 1990) includes parent, teacher, and social skills training components.
The parent-training program shows parents brief videotaped vignettes of parent–child interactions as examples of positive interactions and communication with their children, the value of praise and reward, and the use of time-out and other mild negative consequences. The program has been extensively evaluated in treating children with conduct disorders and in preventing further aggressive behavior and related problems in children whose behavior is not yet at the clinical level. It has been shown to improve parents’ use of positive parenting practices; to reduce harsh, critical parenting; and to reduce diverse problem behaviors (Gardner, Burton, and Klimes, 2006; Linares, Montalto, et al., 2006; Patterson, Reid, and Eddy, 2002; Reid, Webster-Stratton, and Beauchaine, 2001). These benefits have been shown for a variety of ethnic groups (Reid, Webster-Stratton, and Beauchaine, 2002; Patterson, Reid, and Eddy, 2002) and when provided by diverse professionals, including teachers, nurses, family support specialists, and social workers (Hutchings, Bywater, et al., 2007; Gardner, Burton, and Klimes, 2006). Barrera, Biglan, and colleagues (2002) evaluated the Incredible Years parenting program as one component of an intervention designed to prevent reading failure and the development of aggressive behavior problems among high-risk elementary schoolchildren. Children who received the intervention displayed less negative social behavior than controls.
The program’s teacher training component focuses on effective preschool and elementary classroom management, while the social skills component teaches children these skills using dinosaur puppets (Dinosaur School). Gross, Fogg, et al. (2003) evaluated the individual and combined effects of the parent and teacher training for 2- and 3-year-old children in day care centers serving low-income minority families in Chicago. Parents who received the parent training had higher efficacy scores, were less coercive in their discipline, and behaved more positively toward their children than did mothers in the control condition, although the effect on parent coerciveness was not sustained at one-year follow-up. Toddlers who were classed as at high risk for problem behavior at the outset of the study and who were in the parent or teacher training condition improved significantly more than children in the control condition; this improvement was maintained at one-year follow-up. Toddlers in the teacher plus parenting training condition did significantly worse on this measure than those in either the teacher training–or parent training–alone condition.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Stoolmiller (2008) report on an evaluation of the teacher training combined with Dinosaur School. The study involved students in Head Start and first grade classrooms in schools that served children in poverty. Teachers who received the training used more positive classroom management strategies, and their students were rated as more socially competent, better at self-regulation, and having fewer conduct problems.