Programs that Work
Healthy and Safe Children
Children and youth not engaging in violent behavior or displaying serious conduct problems
Age of Child
Early Childhood (0-8)
Middle Childhood (9-12)
Type of Setting
Child Care / Preschool
Out of School Time
Community-Based Service Provider
Type of Service
Type of Outcome Addressed
Evidence Level (What does this mean?)
The Incredible Years series is a set of comprehensive curricula targeting children ages 0-12, their parents, and teachers. The curricula are designed both to promote emotional and social competence and to prevent, reduce, and treat children's behavioral and emotional problems. Since the program's inception in 1984, Incredible Years curricula have been modified and updated.
Parent Training Program
The Incredible Years Series offers five different parent training programs, grouped by child's age, plus a school readiness program:
- The Incredible Years Baby and BASIC Toddler programs target parents of children ages 0-2. The Incredible Years Baby program teaches parents to read their child's cues, use effective verbal communication, and provide physical, tactile, and visual stimulation. The BASIC Toddlers program teaches a variety of positive and nurturing parenting skills.
- The Preschool BASIC program targets parents of children ages 3-6 and emphasizes parenting skills to promote children's social competence and reduce behavior problems, and it teaches parents how to play with children, help children learn, give effective praise and incentives, use limit-setting, and handle misbehavior.
- The School Age BASIC program targets parents of children ages 6-12. The School Age BASIC series focuses on promoting positive behaviors and reducing inappropriate behaviors. The ADVANCED series targets parents of children ages 4-12 and teaches effective communication and problem-solving skills.
- The School Readiness Program is a supplement to the BASIC programs and is split into two parts. Program one demonstrates child-directed play techniques using 22 DVD vignettes of adults and children in unrehearsed situations. Group leaders use these vignettes to teach parents how to promote children's academic, social, and emotional skills through child-directed play. Program two demonstrates interactive reading using 28 DVD vignettes of adults and children in unrehearsed situations, and it teaches parents how to promote children's academic, social, and emotional skills with interactive reading techniques.
Child Training Programs
The Incredible Years child training programs use the "Dinosaur Social Skills and Problem Solving" curriculum to teach social, emotional, and academic skills to children ages 3-8. The curriculum may be taught in small group therapy sessions (about six children per group) or in the classroom. Small group therapy sessions using the Dinosaur curriculum are called "Dina Dinosaur Child Training Programs" and, for optimal performance, are taught along with the parent training program. When taught by a licensed therapist or in a therapeutic setting, child training is sometimes referred to as small group therapy or child therapy. Group therapy typically lasts between 18 and 22 weeks, with one two-hour session per week. Incredible Years offers a three-day workshop for therapists interested in using this approach for group therapy with children ages 4-8.
The Dinosaur classroom program is called "Dina Dinosaur Classroom Curriculum" and is ideally taught by classroom teachers 2-3 times per week. Each session starts with a 20- to 30-minute lesson taught to the whole class. Students are then broken into small groups and given activities designed to reinforce the lesson. The skills learned should also be promoted throughout the day. The classroom curriculum includes versions to be used with children in preschool, kindergarten, or primary school. Incredible Years offers a three-day workshop for teachers and school counselors interested in using this approach with children ages 3-8.
Teacher Training Program
The training program for teachers emphasizes classroom-management skills, such as the effective use of praise and encouragement, proactive teaching strategies, and ways to manage inappropriate classroom behavior and build positive relationships with students. The teacher classroom-management program includes seven DVDs and program manuals delivered in a six-day training that should be facilitated by a group leader trained in the Incredible Years classroom-management workshop.
The Incredible Years series targets newborns and children up to age 12 who are at risk for, or who are exhibiting, conduct problems and their parents and teachers. Parents may be self-referred to the program or referred by a professional.
Several studies from around the world that have evaluated Incredible Years components meet the Promising Practices Network (PPN) criteria and have found Incredible Years to be a promising or proven program. These studies are listed below, by the component that was tested in the study.
Parent Training Program Evaluations
Nine studies that met PPN criteria targeted the effects of the Incredible Years parent training program in its standard form.
Webster-Stratton (1982) studied the BASIC parent training program for families living in the United States with children ages 3-5. Thirty-five mothers and their children were randomly assigned to either the BASIC parent training component group (16 mothers) or a waiting-list control group (19 mothers). Mothers, whose average age was 33 years, were recruited to the study through flyer advertisements. Data were collected at baseline prior to the intervention and again just after the intervention. Mothers in the intervention group attended four two-hour videotape modeling discussion sessions over four weeks. Intervention mothers attended the sessions in groups of eight or nine and were encouraged to participate in facilitated group discussions about their observations of the role-modeling videotapes. Mothers could practice the skills they observed unsupervised at home. Researchers collected parental-reported child behavior measures through the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI). They also directly observed parents with their children in 30-minute sessions in a laboratory setting, during which the researchers measured children's positive affect behavior, negative affect behavior, non-acceptance behavior, and also the dominance in the parent-child relationship.
Another study by Webster-Stratton (1992) looked at the effects of Incredible Years parent training in families living in the United States with children ages 3-8. In this study, 100 families, including 167 parents and their children, were randomly assigned to either the BASIC parent training component group (59 mothers and 37 fathers) or to a waiting-list control group (41 mothers and 30 fathers). The average age of the mothers was 33.7 years, and the average age of the fathers was 35.8 years. After families were assigned to receive the parent training or serve as a control, intervention families were given a 10-week individually administered Incredible Years parent training program via videotape. Parents participating in the individually administered program would visit the treatment clinic once a week to watch the videotape sessions in a private room. These parents were also given individual reading and homework assignments to complement the videotape material. The authors measured the family's socioeconomic status and positive and negative life experiences in the past year, marital status and satisfaction in marriage, parental depression, and parental intellectual impairment. In addition, using established scales, parents rated their levels of stress on the Parenting Stress Index (PSI) and child behaviors on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and ECBI. Teachers rated child behavior in preschool on the Preschool Behavior Questionnaire (PBQ), and 30-minute home observations by study staff were used to measure parent-child interactions. In addition, mothers completed daily reports of child behavior throughout the duration of the study. Differences between the intervention and control group were measured by comparing changes in the study measures that happened between the initial assessment and the assessment just after the intervention timeframe.
Scott et al. (2001) looked at the effect of Incredible Year parent training in families living in England with children ages 3-8. In this study, 141 parents and their children were randomly assigned to either the BASIC parent training component group (90 parents) or to a waiting-list control group (51 parents). Parents in the parent training group were given 16 weeks of video training in two-hour weekly sessions in groups of 6-8 parents. Outcomes measures included parent reports of conduct problems and hyperactivity, conduct problems and deviance as measured in a strengths and difficulties questionnaire, behaviors measured through the CBCL, parent reports of problems, parent daily child reports, oppositional defiant disorder ratings, and observations of parental behavior. The study compared changes from before to after the intervention time period between the intervention and the control group.
Patterson et al. (2002) studied the effect of Incredible Years parent training in a similar age group in England. For this evaluation, 116 parents of children ages 2-8 were assigned to one of two groups with similar background characteristics. Of 1,788 parents who received ECBI survey invitations to participate in the study, 800 families returned the survey and 391 families had children who scored above the median for behavior problem intensity. All 391 qualifying families were invited to participate in the study, and 116 families consent to participate. Then the groups were randomly assigned to BASIC parent training (60 parents) or to a control group (56 parents). The parent trainings occurred in two-hour meetings of groups of ten parents for ten weeks. Measured outcomes were child behavior ratings on the ECBI and the Goodman Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, health on the Goldberg General Health Questionnaire, parental stress on the PSI, and parental mental health on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Questionnaires were administered just before the intervention timeframe, just after the timeframe, and again six months later.
Gardner, Burton, and Klimes (2006) also studied the Incredible Years parent training in England. Parents of 76 British children ages 2-9 referred for conduct problems were randomly assigned to BASIC parent training (44 parents) or a no-treatment comparison group (32 parents). Families were referred to the study by health care providers, social workers, or other professionals and had children above clinical cut-off levels for problem behaviors. Of 158 referred families, 37 did not meet the study criteria and 34 were unwilling to participate. The parent training program was delivered in groups of 10-12 parents in two-hour weekly sessions over 14 weeks. Measurements were taken in the family home, just before the intervention time period and again six months later (i.e., several months after the parent training program was done). Researchers recorded parent-child interactions in six structured home setting observations, to capture child problem behaviors as well as positive and negative parenting. In addition, questionnaires were used to measure child behavior (ECBI), parental discipline techniques (parenting scale), and parental depression (Beck Depression Inventory).
Hutchings et al. (2007) evaluated the Incredible Years parenting program with a set of families living in Wales with preschool-age children at risk for developing conduct disorder. In 11 Sure Start areas in north and mid-Wales, 153 families were eligible to participate in the study, based on having a child age 3-4 who tested above clinical cut-off levels for conduct disorder and who lived with his or her primary caretaker. Of these, 104 families were block-randomized to receive the Incredible Years intervention, and 49 were assigned to a control group. Incredible Years parent training sessions occurred in groups of 12 or fewer, in 2- to 2.5-hour sessions over 12 weeks. Parents and children were measured when they entered the study, assigned to either receive intervention or serve as a control, then measured again every six months for up to 21 months. Measures of interest were the parent's report of child behavior as assessed through the ECBI; a parenting stress index that measured stress levels, depression, and competencies; and 30-minute home observation sessions that captured parenting behaviors and deviant child behaviors. Eighty-six intervention families and 47 control families had data for all measures taken at both the pre-test and a follow-up test. There were no significant observable differences between families who remained in the study and families who did not provide follow-up data.
Jones et al. (2007) evaluated the effectiveness of the Incredible Years parent training program at treating preschool children at risk for developing both conduct problems and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children came from a larger study conducted in Wales that included 255 families that lived in designated Sure Start center areas and had been referred by their health visitor. In the Jones et al. (2007) study, 79 children were included because parents had rated their behavior above clinical cut-off levels of hyperactivity and early onset of externalizing problems. These children had been randomized on a two-to-one basis to the Incredible Years parent training intervention group or to a control group in the larger study; 50 of the children belonged to the intervention group and 29 belonged to the control group. There were no significant demographic or behavior and symptomatic differences between the control and intervention groups prior to the intervention. Child behavior and ADHD symptoms were measured just before intervention and again six months after intervention. The measures included a parent questionnaire; the ECBI, which assessed child behavior; the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire, which assessed behaviors associated with conduct problems; the Conner's abbreviated Parent/Teacher Rating Scale, which assessed the incidence of ADHD symptoms; and in-home observations, which measured both parenting behavior and child behavior. Ninety percent of families completed assessments at both the pre- and post-tests.
Webster-Stratton and Herman (2008) looked at the effect of the Incredible Years parent training program on child depressive and internalizing symptoms in children ages 3-8 living in the United States. This study relied on data from 181 families that had participated in an earlier study of young children with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder. Families that had requested treatment from the University of Washington Parenting Clinic were recruited for participation in the study. Interested families were screened for eligibility based on child's age, conduct problems, and having no major physical or psychological impairments. Families that met eligibility criteria completed intake assessments and were then randomly assigned to receive the parent training program or to a control group that was waitlisted to receive the treatment. A total of 111 children participated in the parent training group, and 70 children participated in the waiting-list control group. Pre- and post-test mother and father reports were recorded using the CBCL to measure child internalizing behavior, a child mood scale from the PSI to measure child depressive symptoms, and the ECBI to measure child conduct problems. Mother-provided data was available for all children at the pre- and post-test. However, only 128 fathers provided data at the second time point. The treatment and control groups were similar in baseline characteristics, and characteristics of fathers who dropped out did not differ between the two groups. Changes in the measures over time were compared between the treatment and control groups.
McIntyre (2008) measured the impact of Incredible Years parent training on preschool-age children with developmental disabilities. Parents were recruited for the study through flyers made available in their child's preschool program or through an early intervention provider. Families eligible for the study had at least one child age 2-5, and the child had to have an Adaptive Behavior Scale rating between 45 and 85, be neither deaf nor blind, and have been living with their primary caregiver (guardian) for at least six months. Of 57 families who were screening, 49 met eligibility criteria for participating in the study. After meeting eligibility criteria, families were randomly assigned to the treatment group (12 weeks of 2.5-hour group sessions of Incredible Years parent training, adapted for children with developmental disabilities) or to the comparison group, which did not receive Incredible Years training. Twenty-one families in the treatment group completed the study, and 23 families in the comparison group completed the study. At baseline, the groups did not differ demographically, nor did they differ on child behavior ratings. All families in the study continued to receive their usual care in early childhood education programs. All families in the study participated in an initial pre-assessment and a post-assessment 14-16 weeks later. Assessments included a parent-completed CBCL that measured child behavior problems, a family impact questionnaire that measured negative and positive impacts the child has on the family, and observations of parent-child interactions in the home, which measured parenting behavior. Changes over time in these measures were compared between the treatment group and the comparison group.
In contrast to the studies above that compared the traditional form of BASIC parent training to business as usual for families, six studies compared the effects of variations on the parent training component or compared Incredible Years parent training with other options.
Webster-Stratton (1984) compared the Incredible Years parent training program with higher-cost individual therapy and with a waiting-list control group. In this study, 35 mothers of conduct-problem children ages 3-8 were randomly assigned to one of the three groups. Families were recruited from the psychiatric and behavioral clinic in a pediatric hospital and had been referred because of a child with oppositional behaviors. Families assigned to the parent training program were asked to attend nine weeks of therapist-led sessions in groups of 8-10 parents. Families in the individual treatment group met with therapists in one-on-one sessions, where the therapist modeled behavior, based on the Incredible Years curriculum, with the child and parent present. Assessments were conducted at baseline just before the intervention and three months later. Assessments included parental reports on ECBI and CBCL and parent telephone reports that measured negative and pro-social child behaviors. Thirty-minute home observation sessions were also conducted to measure parent and child behavior. Finally, teachers completed the PBQ to assess children's behavior in preschool.
Webster-Stratton, Kolpacoff, and Hollinsworth (1988) looked at three variations of the Incredible Years program. In this study, 194 parents of 114 conduct-problem children ages 3-8 were randomly assigned to one of four groups: individually self-administered BASIC videotape-based modeling treatment (29 mothers and 20 fathers), a group-discussion treatment (28 mothers and 19 fathers), a therapist-led group discussion and BASIC videotape-based modeling treatment (28 mothers and 20 fathers), or a waiting-list control group (29 mothers and 21 fathers). Families that entered the study were both self-referred and referred by professionals. Families in the group discussion video modeling group were asked to meet weekly in groups of 10-15 parents for 10-12 weeks. Families in the individually administered video modeling group were asked to come to the clinic once a week for 10-12 weeks of video sessions. Group discussion families met with a therapist-led group of 10-15 parents for 10-12 weeks, to cover the same topics covered in the Incredible Years parent training videos. Measurements were taken just before the intervention and one month after the intervention ended. Measures used were parent ratings of child behavior on the CBCL and ECBI, mother observations of child behavior in a parent daily report, parental stress on the PSI, teacher behavior ratings in the PBQ, and home observations of parent and child behavior.
Webster-Stratton (1990a) looked at self-administered Incredible Year parent training, with and without therapist consultation. Forty-three families with conduct-problem children ages 3-8 were randomly assigned to one of three groups: individually administered BASIC videotape-based modeling treatment without therapist consultation (17 mothers and nine fathers), individually administered BASIC videotape-based modeling treatment with therapist consultation (14 mothers and seven fathers), or a waiting-list control group (12 mothers and seven fathers).
Spaccarelli, Cotler, and Penman (1992) compared two variations of the Incredible Years parent training curriculum with a waiting-list control group. Fifty-three parents (47 mothers and six fathers) were randomly assigned to one of three groups: BASIC videotape-instruction parenting-skills group with training in problem-solving (21 parents), BASIC videotape-instruction parenting-skills group with therapist-facilitated discussion (16 parents), a waiting-list control group (16 parents).
Taylor et al. (1998) compared the Incredible Years parent training program with a "typical" treatment approach. In this study, 110 parents with children ages 3-8 who contacted a family center for assistance related to child conduct problems were randomly assigned to receive either the BASIC parent training component (46 families); the typical "eclectic" treatment approach offered at the center, which was not limited in the duration or number of sessions and did not follow a therapy manual (46 families); or postponed treatment in a waiting-list control group (18 families). Approximately 85 percent of the families assigned to the two treatment groups and 78 percent of families assigned to the control group met clinical cut-off levels for child behavior problems on the ECBI. Families in the eclectic treatment met with their therapist at times and frequencies decided by them. Families in the Incredible Years parent training group met in groups of about seven families to receive 11-14 weeks of therapist-led discussion, plus individual meetings with the group therapist. Therapists in this group might also make home phone calls or visits to troublesome families. Assessments were done at pre-intervention and post-intervention. Measures used were the ECBI, CBCL, parent daily telephone reports, teacher-reported child behaviors (Achenbach Teacher Report Form), Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters (MESSY), parental depressions (Beck inventory), relationship quality, familial support, and parental anger and aggression.
Lau et al. (2011) examined the impacts of Incredible Years parent training, modified to target Chinese American parents, on children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors and positive and negative parenting practices. The study enrolled 54 parents who had immigrated from China after age 18 and spoke either Mandarin or Cantonese and were parents of children ages 5-12. Parents were referred to the study by community professionals because of concerns about parental discipline and child behavior problems. Thirty-two families were randomly assigned to receive parent training, and 22 families were randomly assigned to serve as a waiting-list control group. The treatment families were split into six groups of 5-10 parents each, who attended parent training together. Parent training was offered in 14 sessions that included components of the BASIC and ADVANCED Incredible Years parent training programs. Children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors were assessed, using parental reports on the CBCL, just prior to and just after treatment. Positive and negative parenting behaviors were assessed using the Alabama parenting questionnaire just prior to and just after treatment.
Child Training Program Evaluations
Only one study, Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Hammond (2001b), looked at the effects of delivering the Dinosaur curriculum to children in isolation of other Incredible Years program components. In this study, 99 children ages 4-8 with early-onset conduct problems and a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder or ADHD were randomly assigned to the Dinosaur child training program group (51 children) or a waiting-list control group (48 children). Children in the intervention group were asked to attend 18-22 weekly sessions with two child therapists in groups of 5-6 six children. Study assessments were done just before the intervention and two months after the treatment period ended. Child conduct problems were measured using the parent-reported CBCL, a teacher report (Teacher Assessment of Social Behavior) that measures prosocial and aggressive behavior, and 30-minute home observations of child-parent interactions. Children's social problem-solving skills were measured with the WALLY test. Hyperactivity was measured using the parent-reported CBCL, the teacher-reported PBQ, and test-administrator ratings of child behavior during test-taking. Parenting behavior was measured through a daily discipline interview and in-home observations, while parenting stress was measured with a marital adjustment scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, a life experiences survey, socioeconomic status, and an anger assessment survey.
See the studies on delivery of multiple components of Incredible Years for evaluations of child training in conjunction with other Incredible Years program components.
Teacher Training Program Evaluations
Two studies examined the impacts of delivering Incredible Years teacher training to teachers of young children.
Williford and Shelton (2008) studied the effects of the Incredible Years teacher training program when delivered using a consultation model. Head Start teachers attended one group session that introduced the Incredible Years program, then met weekly with a graduate student pursuing his or her degree in clinical psychology and trained in the Incredible Years program. In these weekly one-on-one sessions, teachers were shown Incredible Years-recommended effective classroom management, effective discipline, positive attention, and strengthening the teacher-child relationship through hands-on training tailored to the teacher's classroom needs. Specific topics covered and length of consultation period varied from teacher to teacher. In addition to the teacher training, parents of the children in the classes taught by these teachers were encouraged to attend a 10-week Incredible Years parent training series. Head Start centers were randomly assigned to either receive the treatment describe above (includes two centers with 21 classrooms in total) or to serve as a comparison group that did not receive any Incredible Years training but was given resources for mental health services (includes one large center and four small centers with 19 classrooms in total). After centers were assigned to treatment status, 59 children from the treatment group were recruited for the study, while 37 were recruited from the comparison group. The average age of children in the study was about four and a half years. Recruitment criteria were the child's score on a behavior rating scale and the family's willingness to participate in the study. The two groups were statistically equivalent on demographic characteristics, but the authors do not report whether the groups differed on pre-test measures. The study measured changes in teacher reports of disruptive behavior by the child (measured through three scales: an ADHD rating scale, an oppositional defiant disorder scale, and the Behavior Assessment System for Children, a behavior assessment tool) between the treatment group and comparison group over time. The study also measured changes in effective teaching strategies, parenting stress, and parenting skills between treatment and comparison groups over time. Approximately 66 percent of all children in the study had data for all measures for both the pre- and post-tests.
Raver et al. (2008) examined the effect of Incredible Years group teacher training plus in-class coaching from a master's-level mental health consultant one day a week. Thirteen neighborhoods in Chicago were determined eligible for study participation, based on poverty rates, Head Start eligibility, crime rates, and ethnic composition. Of these, seven were selected for study participation, based on proximity to each other and to the research facility. The study included 35 classrooms from 18 preschool sites in the neighborhoods that volunteered to participate. The 18 sites were grouped into pairs, based on similarity to each other, and randomly assigned to receive the treatment described above or to a comparison group that received weekly in-class staffing support. An average of 91 percent of families of children enrolled in classrooms at these sites agreed to participate in the study. The study measured classroom quality using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, with graduate student observers (blind to treatment status) rating each classroom on positive climate, negative climate, teacher sensitivity, and behavior management. For this study, observations were taken in September and March; comparisons were made between the treatment and comparison group scores on March observations, with September observations used as a control. Four of 87 teachers dropped out of the study between September and March. Across the 35 classrooms, 455 children entered the study in September and stayed until March; 93 children entered in September but dropped out before March; and 59 children entered the study after September and stayed until March. Differences in child gender dropout rates between the treatment and control groups could lead to a lower estimated treatment effect.
The Incredible Years components are designed to be used simultaneously to treat children. Several studies have studied the impacts of delivering multiple components of the Incredible Years program to the same families.
Webster-Stratton and Hammond (1997) studied the impact of delivering both the parent training component and the child training component on children meeting criteria for diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder. In this study, families of 97 children ages 4-8 with early-onset conduct problems were randomly assigned to receive either BASIC parent training (43 parents of 26 children), Dinosaur child training (27 children), combined BASIC parent training and Dinosaur child training (36 parents and 22 children), or postponed treatment as a waiting-list control group (40 parents and 22 children). Children in the child training group were asked to attend 22 weekly sessions of Dinosaur school in groups of five or six, led by two therapists. Parents in the parent training group met with other parents in groups of 10-12 for 22-24 sessions of parent training led by a therapist. Children and parents in the child training plus parent training group attended each, respectively. Study assessments occurred just before the treatment period and two months after the treatment period. Parent and teacher perceptions of child behavior were measured using the ECBI, the PSI (child stress), parent daily reports, the PBQ, and the CBCL. The WALLY test was also used to measure children's social problem-solving skills, and home observations were conducted to assess parent-child interactions.
Gross et al. (2003) studied Incredible Years parent training and teacher training in families with younger children. Here, 264 low-income parents of children ages 2-3 in the Chicago area were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: parent training only (75 parents), teacher training using the BASIC parent training program (52 parents), parent training delivered to both parents and teachers in separate groups (78 parents), or no intervention in a waiting-list control group (59 parents). Approximately 21 percent (56) of families dropped out of the study before it was completed, with more families dropping out of the parent training groups than the other groups. Of 112 teachers who participated in the study, 31 percent (35 teachers) left the schools and were not included in the analysis. Parents in the parent training intervention groups were asked to attend 12 weeks of Incredible Years parent training in groups of 8-12 parents. Teachers in teacher training groups were asked to attend 12 Incredible Years teacher training sessions in groups of 4-12 teachers. Parent and teacher groups were led by nurses, and homework assignments were added to the program to encourage parent-teacher collaboration. Measurements were taken just before the intervention period and just after. Measurements included parent-reported self-efficacy, discipline strategies, depression, and neighborhood and parent stress. In addition, observers rated parenting behaviors in 15-minute videotaped sessions of child-parent interactions. Child behavior was measured through the parent-reported ECBI, teacher-reported Kohn's Problem Checklist, and observer ratings of child behavior in the 15-minute video sessions.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Hammond (2004) looked at several combinations of Incredible Years component delivery to families living in Washington. Families of 159 children ages 4-8 with oppositional defiant disorder were randomly assigned to receive either BASIC parent training (31 children); combined BASIC parent training and Incredible Years teacher training (24 children); Dinosaur child training (30 children); combined Dinosaur child training and Incredible Years teacher training (23 children); combined BASIC parent training, Dinosaur child training, and Incredible Years teacher training (25 children); or postponed treatment as part of a waiting-list control group (26 children). Child training was given to groups of 6-7 children once a week for 18-19 weeks. Parent training was conducted with groups of 10-12 parents, in weekly sessions, for 22-24 weeks. Parent and child training was led by master's- or doctoral-level therapists. Teachers received four full days of training, spread out over the intervention period. The study was conducted over multiple years, with new families recruited and assessed each year. Pre-testing was done about one to two months before the intervention period, and post-testing was completed within a few months of the end of the intervention period. Testing included in-home observations of 30-minute sessions of parent-child interacts and in-class observations of children during structured and unstructured time. In addition, parents were surveyed on different measures of parenting behaviors and strategies and parent-reported child behaviors, and teachers rated children on a variety of child behavior measures.
Drugli and Larsson (2006) studied the effects of combined Incredible Years parent training with Incredible Years child training in Norway on child behavior at home and in day care or school. Study participants were 127 children ages 4-8 and their families that had been referred to clinical treatment due to oppositional or conduct problems. Eighty percent of the children were male, 31 percent were in day care and the other 69 percent were in school, and 87 percent had confirmed diagnoses of oppositional defiant disorder. Three families dropped out of the study prior to completion. Incredible Years parent training occurred in groups of 10-12, in two-hour sessions over 12-14 weeks. In addition, the child's teacher was invited to participate in one meeting with the parents and a therapist to learn about the treatment program. Incredible Years child training used the Dinosaur classroom curriculum in groups of six children who met with two therapists for two-hour sessions over 18 weeks. Forty-seven families received the parent training intervention only, and 52 families received parent training and child training. Twenty-eight families served as waiting-list control participants and did not receive any Incredible Years intervention during the study. Study data were collected just before the intervention and six months later. Multiple teacher-reported data collection tools were used to assess changes. Teacher-reported data included the PBQ, which measured conduct problems in school. Teachers also rated each child's academic performance and completed a social competence and behavior evaluation of study children, which asked teachers to assess patterns of social competence and peer interactions. A student-teacher relationship scale asked teachers questions about their perception of their relationship with study children. Finally, the INVOLVE-T, a questionnaire in which teachers assess the degree of parental involvement in school, was used, and children completed the WALLY problem-solving test, which is designed to measured children's problem-solving abilities in social situations.
Drugli, Larsson, and Clifford (2007) examined changes in social competence for a group of Norwegian children ages 4-8 whose families received either Incredible Years parent training or both Incredible Years parent training and Incredible Years child training. Families participating in the study were the same as those from Drugli and Larsson (2006), as were the treatment conditions. Multiple data collection tools were used to assess changes. The ECBI was used as a parent-reported measure of frequency of conduct problems. The CBCL was also used as a parent-reported and measured aggression, attention, and internalizing. A final parent-reported source of data was the KIDDIE-SADS, which is a semistructured diagnostic interview used to assess psychopathology in children. Children completed the WALLY problem-solving test, which is designed to measured children's problem-solving abilities in social situations.
Using the same set of families, Larsson et al. (2009) measured the effects of either the Incredible Years parent training or both Incredible Years parenting training and Incredible Years child training on parenting strategies and parental stress. The measures of interest in this study were the parent practices interview (PPI), a questionnaire that assesses harsh discipline, inconsistent discipline, and positive parenting. In addition, the PSI, which measures parent perceived stress, was used.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Stoolmiller (2008) studied the effects of the Incredible Years classroom management and Dinosaur school curriculum on children enrolled in Head Start, kindergarten, and first grade. Matched pairs of Head Start programs and elementary schools were randomly assigned, so that one of each pair was assigned to receive the Incredible Years intervention and the other served as a control group following its usual school curriculum. Head Start programs (33 classrooms) and elementary schools (42 kindergarten classrooms and 45 first-grade classrooms) from Seattle participated in the study. The study ran for four years, with pre-test data collected in the fall of the school year and post-test data collected in the spring. To assess impacts on teachers, data were collected for each of 153 teachers' first year of participation in the study, as control teachers were given the intervention in their second year. Since students changed classrooms each year, classroom data used to assess student impacts were collected across multiple years. Student outcomes data were available for 1,746 students located in 160 classrooms, taught by 119 teachers. There were no school-level, teacher-level, or student-level demographic differences between the control and intervention schools. Teachers in the intervention group received an average of 3.73 of four possible days of Incredible Years training to teach and an average of 27 of 30 possible lessons of the Dinosaur curriculum in their classes. Independent observers, blind to the classroom's treatment status, observed structured and unstructured classrooms sessions to record child and teacher behaviors. Teacher behaviors were recorded using the Multiple Option Observation System for Experimental Studies (MOOSES), which measures positive reinforcement, critical statements made by teachers, and the amount of interaction with students. MOOSES was also used measure child behaviors in class, including conduct problems, emotional self-regulation, and social competence. In addition, the study authors developed a teacher coder impressions inventory to evaluate the teacher's classroom management style and strategies. Observers also measured children's emotional self-regulation skills, social skills, and conduct problems using the School Readiness and Conduct Problems: Coder Observation of Adaptation-Revised tool (COCA-R). Classroom atmosphere was also rated by observers, including classroom levels of student cooperation and problem-solving, interest in subject matter, focus, responsiveness, on-task behavior, and classroom support. Two tests were administered to assess child and parent outcomes: the WALLY problem-solving and feelings test, developed by Webster-Stratton, which measures children's problem-solving skills in social situations; and the INVOLVE-T, a questionnaire in which teachers report parental involvement in school activities.
Baker-Henningham et al. (2009) studied the effects of the Incredible Years teacher training and Dinosaur classroom curriculum used with preschool children in Jamaica. Five preschools—three that served inner-city communities and two that served wider areas—were selected for study participation. The schools were matched by school type, and one school of each pair was randomly assigned to receive the intervention or serve as a control group. Fifteen classrooms spread across three schools were assigned to receive the Incredible Years intervention, and 12 classrooms spread across two schools were assigned to the control group. Most classrooms had one teacher, and the average classroom size was 21 children. There were no significant differences in teacher characteristics, teacher behavior, or classroom behavior between the intervention and control classrooms prior to the intervention. Teachers in the intervention group received Incredible Years teacher training, delivered in seven sessions between October and April. In addition, each intervention teacher received a one-hour consultation session each month. Classrooms in the intervention group also received 14 sessions of the Dinosaur classroom curriculum. Some components of the intervention were modified for appropriateness in a Jamaican setting. Measurements were done at the classroom level through direct observations conducted just prior to intervention in the fall and just after the intervention, in the spring of the same school year. At each observation time, four 15-minute intervals were observed to measure positive teaching behaviors, negative teaching behaviors, teacher commands, and promotion of children's social and emotional competence. In addition, classroom-level child behavior was observed for appropriate behavior and interest and enthusiasm.
Herman et al. (2011) examined the impact of combinations of the Incredible Years components on improvements in internalizing symptoms among 159 families with children ages 4-6 living in the United States. The study compared families randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions: 30 families were assigned to receive child training; 31 families were assigned to receive parent training; 24 families were assigned to receive parenting training and teacher training; 23 families were assigned to receive child training and teacher training; 25 families were assigned to receive teacher training, parent training, and child training; and 26 families were assigned to serve as a waiting-list control group that did not receive any treatment during the study period. In this study, child training occurred as 18-19 weeks of "Dinosaur School," with a single two-hour session offered at the study parenting clinic each week. Parent training occurred as 22-24 weeks of parent training, with a single two-hour session offered at the study parenting clinic each week. Teacher training was offered as four day-long (8-hour) sessions at the study parenting clinic. All study children were assessed for internalizing symptoms, using maternal reports on the CBCL, in the fall prior to treatment and in the spring, after treatment had ended.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Beauchaine (2011) examined the effectiveness of parent training combined with child training on children's behavior and parenting behaviors among families with children ages 4-6 showing signs of ADHD. In this study, researchers randomly assigned 49 children to a treatment group that received parent training and child training and 50 children to a control group that was waitlisted to receive treatment after the study. Parents and children were assessed for child behavior and parenting behaviors, using multiple assessment tools, in the fall before the treatment period began and again in the spring, after treatment had ended. Treatment consisted of 20 weeks of Incredible Years preschool parent training and child training. Both trainings were offered in a single two-hour session per week and were scheduled to occur at the same time. Assessment tools included the Parenting Practices Inventory (parental reported parenting behaviors), the CBCL (parental reported child behaviors), Conner's Parent Rating Scale-Revised (parental reported child hyperactivity, inattentiveness and oppositional behavior), the ECBI (parental reported problem behaviors and intensity), the Social Competence Scale (parental reported positive social behaviors in child), the Teacher Report Form (teacher reported internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children), Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (teacher reported child hyperactivity, inattentiveness and oppositional behavior), and researcher-coded scales to assess child and parent behavior in a lab setting and child behavior in the school setting.
Key Evaluation Findings
Parent Training Program
Fifteen studies evaluated the Incredible Years parent training component in isolation of other components and found positive effects on the parent-child relationship and/or child behavior.
Webster-Stratton's (1982) study found the following:
- BASIC parent training group mothers reported significantly less-frequent problem behaviors than did control group mothers.
- Independent observations of children's behavior found that treatment group children showed significantly fewer submissive behaviors (e.g., approval-seeking or help-seeking) and negative behaviors (e.g., pouting, ridicule) and higher rates of positive-affect behaviors (e.g., smiling, expressions of affection) than control group children.
- There were no significant differences between the groups in the frequency of non-acceptance behaviors (e.g., frustration, ignoring) and dominance behaviors (e.g., criticizing, refusing to comply), nor in the total number of problem behaviors reported.
Another study by Webster-Stratton (1984), comparing mothers in BASIC parent training videotape group sessions with mothers in higher-cost individual therapy and mothers in a control group (no therapy), found the following:
- Children whose parents participated in BASIC parent video modeling exhibited significantly fewer occurrences and lower intensity of problem behaviors and negative behaviors. BASIC parent training video modeling mothers also reported less use of spanking than control group mothers.
- Children in the BASIC parent training video modeling group were observed to have higher rates of prosocial behavior than control group children.
- There were no significant differences between the individual therapy and video modeling groups in parent attitudes, total parent-reported child behavior problems, or total independent observations of child deviancy.
Webster-Stratton, Kolpacoff, and Hollinsworth (1988) reported results for three types of treatment groups, which included a self-administered videotape treatment modeling treatment group (IVM), a group-discussion treatment group (GD), and a therapist-led group discussion with videotape modeling treatment group (GDVM), in comparison to a control group. The authors reported the following:
- Parents' reports: Compared with parents in the control group, parents in all three treatment groups reported significantly superior results. This included both mothers' and fathers' reports of total problem behaviors, mothers' reports of occurrence and frequency of problem behaviors, mothers' reports of negative behaviors, and both mothers' and fathers' use of spanking.
- Teachers' reports: Teachers rated the GDVM and GD children as showing larger decreases in behavior problems than control group children. No significant differences were found between the IVM and control group.
- Independent observations: Children's total deviance with mothers and fathers was significantly less for the GDVM and GD groups than for the control group. When compared with the control group, total deviance for children of IVM fathers was also significantly less, but this was not the case for children of IVM mothers.
When comparing parents in the IVM, GDVM, and control groups, Webster-Stratton's (1990a) study found the following:
- Both mothers and fathers in the IVM group and GDVM group reported significantly less-frequent problem behaviors and less spanking than the parents in the control group reported.
- Observations of parents found a significantly larger decrease in the measure of total child deviance with GDVM mothers (but not with GDVM fathers) compared with the control group.
- When the two treatment groups were compared with each other, the GDVM children showed a significantly larger decrease in home observations of total child deviance with mothers (but not with fathers).
Spaccarelli, Cotler, and Penman (1992) reported the following:
- Parents in the videotape-based parenting skills group with additional parent training in problem-solving showed greater reductions than the control group showed in the occurrence and frequency of problem behaviors and in the intensity of the three most troubling behaviors (as identified by parents).
- The videotape-based parenting-skills group with therapist-facilitated discussion showed greater reductions than the control group showed in the frequency of problem behaviors and in the intensity of the three most troubling behaviors.
- There were no significant differences between the two videotape-based parenting skills treatment groups (additional parent training group and therapist-facilitated discussion) for any of the outcome measures.
A later study by Webster-Stratton (1992) found the following:
- Mothers in the BASIC parent training group reported significantly better scores than did control group mothers for reductions in the occurrence and frequency of child problem behaviors, total behavior problems, negative versus prosocial behaviors, and use of spanking.
- Similarly, fathers in the BASIC parent training group reported significantly better scores than did control group fathers for reductions in the frequency of problem behaviors (but not total occurrence), total behavior problems, and use of spanking. Home observations of children with their fathers showed lower rates of child deviance (i.e., whining, crying, smart talk, and noncompliance) for treatment group children than for control group children.
- No significant differences were found between the groups for teachers' reports of total behavior problems or for home observations of child deviance with mothers.
Taylor et al. (1998) found the following:
- Relative to the control group, the BASIC parent training group had significantly lower rates of occurrence and frequency of problem behaviors and total problem behaviors.
- There were no significant differences between the BASIC parent training group and the control group in parents' daily reports of negative behaviors or in teachers' reports of total problems and inappropriate social behaviors.
- When compared with the "eclectic" treatment group, the BASIC parent training mothers reported significantly greater reductions in the occurrence of behavior problems and negative behaviors.
- No significant differences were found between the two treatment groups in the frequency of problem behaviors and total problem behaviors or in teachers' reports of inappropriate social behaviors.
Scott et al. (2001) compared mothers in the BASIC parent training group with control group mothers and found that BASIC group mothers had significantly fewer reports of
children's antisocial behavior, hyperactivity, deviance, total behavior problems, the three most serious behavior problems for each child (determined by parents), and daily reports of total problems.
Patterson et al. (2002) reported the following:
- Intensity of conduct problems did not differ significantly across intervention and control groups at post-test. By the six-month follow-up, scores in the treatment group had dropped significantly more than the scores in the control group (26.1 points compared with 9.3 points).
- Intervention-group children with baseline conduct-problem intensity scores in the normal range had significantly lower scores from pre-test to six-month follow-up (9.2 points lower), while children in the control group with baseline scores in the same range did not exhibit a statistically significant change (5.9 points lower).
- Negative outcomes on the conduct-problem frequency score were also significantly reduced in both control and intervention groups at six-month follow-up. Differences between groups were significant, with the intervention group exhibiting greater improvement than the control group.
- Differences between groups on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were statistically significant for conduct problems at both initial post-test and six-month follow-up, with outcomes favoring the intervention group.
- No significant differences were found between groups for emotional problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, or prosocial behaviors.
The study by Gardner, Burton, and Klimes (2006) found:
- Six months after program completion, child problem behaviors as reported both by parents and through direct observations were significantly more apparent in the control group than in the treatment group.
Jones et al. (2007) found the following results for Welsh families:
- Intervention children had significantly improved parental scores on the Conner's rating of ADHD symptoms, relative to control children.
Hutchings et al. (2007) also studied the Incredible Years parent training program in Welsh families and found the following:
- Intervention group children showed significant reductions in conduct problems, compared with control group children, according to the child behavior inventory test.
- Intervention group children showed significant reductions in Conner' test ratings of hyperactivity, compared with control group children.
- Intervention group children showed significant improvements in self-control ratings, compared with control group children.
- Intervention group children showed significant improvements in hyperactivity ratings and marginally significant improvements in conduct problems and deviance on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, compared with control children.
- Siblings of intervention children showed significant improvements in conduct problem intensity on the child behavior inventory test, compared with control siblings.
- Parents in the intervention group showed significant improvements in parental stress scores, significant reductions in depression, and significant improvements in rating on the parenting scale, compared with control parents.
- Observations of parents showed significant improvement in positive parenting and marginally significant reductions in critical parenting in the intervention parents, compared with control parents.
McIntyre (2008) found the following results related to Incredible Years parent training:
- Parents in the intervention group displayed significantly fewer inappropriate or negative parenting behaviors and marginally significantly greater child-directed praise statements than control group parents.
- Children in the intervention group had significantly lower overall parent-reported behavior problems on the CBCL, compared with control children.
- Intervention children showed significant reduction in internalizing behavior problems, compared with the control children.
- There were no significant differences between the intervention and control group in reported changes in child impact on the family over time.
Webster-Stratton and Herman (2008) found the following results with Incredible Years parent training for child depressive symptoms:
- Children in the intervention group showed a significantly greater decrease in mothers' ratings of internalizing symptoms than control group children.
- Fathers' ratings of internalizing symptoms did not differ significantly between intervention and control groups, but when the analysis was restricted to children that began the study with elevated depression levels, intervention children showed a significant decrease compared with control children.
- Mothers' ratings of child's depressed mood significantly lowered for the intervention group, compared with the control group, and the fathers' ratings showed a marginally significant decrease, with a stronger effect for children with elevated depression levels prior to treatment.
- Significant improvements were also found for mothers' parental competence, mothers' attachment, and mothers' role restriction in intervention group mothers, compared with control group mothers.
- Marginally significantly fewer intervention children (48 percent) remained in the borderline clinical range of depression, compared with control children (70 percent), by either the mother's or father's report.
- Significantly fewer intervention children (26 percent) remained in the severe-clinical range of depression, compared with control children (78 percent), by either the mother's or the father's report. Along the same lines, significantly more intervention children (31 percent) that started in the severe-clinical range returned to normal levels at post-test than control children (0 percent), by either the mother's or the father's report.
- A significantly greater percent of intervention children (23.1 percent) showed a 20 percent or greater reduction in symptoms than control children (3.3 percent), according to the mothers' ratings.
Lau et al. (2011) found the following results associated with a version of the Incredible Years parent training program modified for Chinese American parents:
- Treatment children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors, as reported by parents, were improved significantly compared with children in the waiting-list control group.
- Parents in the treatment group showed significantly greater improvement in positive and negative discipline than parents in the waiting-list control group.
Child Training Programs
One study evaluated the Incredible Years child training or classroom curriculum component in isolation of other components and found positive effects on child behavior.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Hammond (2001b) found:
- Child training group children had larger reductions than did control group children in parent-reported total problem behaviors, teachers' reports of aggression toward peers, and independent observations of child deviance and noncompliance.
- Similarly, child training group children outscored control group children on measures of social problem-solving, including positive responses to hypothetical conflict situations, and the variety of positive strategies (versus negative strategies) identified on a children's problem-solving test.
Teacher Training Program
Two studies evaluated the Incredible Years teacher training component in isolation of other components and found positive effects on classroom environment and/or child behavior.
Raver et al.'s (2008) study of Incredible Years teacher training with coaching found the following:
- Classrooms in the intervention group had significantly higher improvement in positive climate and significant reductions in negative climate, compared with the control group classrooms.
- Teachers in the intervention group demonstrated significant improvements in sensitivity and marginally significant improvements in behavior management, compared with control group teachers.
Williford and Shelton (2008) found the following effects of the Incredible Years teacher training program with consultation:
- Teachers who received the Incredible Years intervention reported significantly greater reduction in disruptive behavior by children, compared with the control teachers (who reported an increase in disruptive behavior).
- Intervention teachers also reported that a greater percentage (55 percent) of children in their classes improved at least one standard deviation on at least one measure of child disruptive behavior, compared with control children (30 percent).
- Teachers who received the Incredible Years intervention reported significantly greater use of effective teacher strategies compared with control teachers.
- Parents did not report a significant improvement in overall child disruptive behavior compared with the control group, but the researchers found that a significantly greater percentage of parents in the intervention group (64 percent) reported that their child improved at least one standard deviation on at least one measure of child disruptive behavior, compared with the control group (33 percent).
- Parents in the intervention group reported significantly greater improvement in the parenting skill area of verbosity and significantly greater improvement in child behavior management, compared with control group parents. (Parents in the teacher training intervention group were given the opportunity to take parent training, and 35 percent of parents participated in at least half of these sessions.)
Ten studies evaluated multiple components of Incredible Years series and found positive effects on the parent-child relationship, teacher-student relationship, and/or child behavior.
Webster-Stratton and Hammond (1997) reported the following post-treatment results for the comparison of the Dinosaur child training (CT) group, the parent training (PT) group, the combined BASIC parent training plus Dinosaur child training (PT+CT) group, and the control group:
- For the PT and the PT+CT group, mother and father ratings on both measures of improvement in child behavior problems were significantly greater than for control children. For the CT group, significantly better scores were found for both father ratings and for one out of two mother ratings.
- Mothers in the PT group, the PT+CT group, and the CT group observed significantly fewer negative behaviors and significantly more prosocial behaviors than did control mothers.
- For child social problem-solving scores, both the PT+CT and CT children showed a significantly greater improvement in the number of different positive solutions than did control children.
- Independent observations revealed that PT, PT+CT, and CT children exhibited significantly greater improvement in negative conflict management skills with peers than did control children.
- Home observations of child behaviors found that PT+CT children significantly outscored controls in terms of positive affect (mood) with mothers (but not fathers), while PT group children scored higher than control children for positive affect with father and had a marginally significant improvement with mothers. CT children and controls did not differ in ratings of positive affect.
- No significant differences were found among the CT, CT+PT, and control groups for teacher ratings of behavior problems or for home observations of child deviance.
- PT children demonstrated no significant group differences from control children for child social problem-solving scores, teacher-rated problem behavior scores, or home observations of child deviance with mothers or with fathers.
Gross et al. (2003) found the following:
- For teacher-reported behavior problems, results showed that both parent training (PT) and teacher training (TT) led to a significant decrease from pre-test to initial post-test in classroom behavior problems when compared with the no-treatment control group. Children in the combined PT+TT group did not fare any better than children in either the PT-only or the TT-only group.
- From initial post-test to the one-year follow-up, significantly lower teacher-reported conduct-problem scores were found for the PT-only and TT-only groups but not for the control group. Furthermore, when the PT and TT groups were compared with the combined PT+TT, children in the latter group fared significantly worse than children in both the PT-only and TT-only groups.
- No significant differences were found among groups for parent-reported conduct-problem scores or for observer-rated negative child behavior.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Hammond (2004) reported the following:
- The CT group, the PT group, the CT+TT group, the PT+TT, and the CT+PT+TT group all showed significant and positive treatment effects on child conduct problems at home with mothers when compared with the control group. For child conduct problems at home with fathers, the CT+PT+TT group, the PT group, and the PT+TT group had a significant positive effect compared with the control group, while the CT+TT group had a marginally significant effect.
- For child social competence with peers, both the CT and CT+PT+TT groups had significant effects compared with the control group, while the CT+TT group had a marginally significant effect.
In their study of Incredible Years parent training and child training with families in Norway, Drugli, and Larsson (2006) found the following:
- Children in the combined PT+CT group significantly reduced their aggression levels in day care and school settings, compared with both the PT-only and waiting-list control group children.
- Significantly more children in the PT+CT group reduced from clinical levels of conduct problems to nonclinical levels than both the PT-only and waiting-list control group children.
- Children in the PT+CT group had significantly improved level of social problem-solving strategies than PT-only children, but neither group differed significantly from the wait list control group.
- There were no significant differences between any groups in attention and internalizing problems, social competence, peer interactions, student-teacher relationships, or parent-teacher involvement.
In this same sample of families, Drugli et al. (2007) found:
- Fathers in the PT group and the PT+CT group rated their children as significantly improving in social competence on the CBCL, compared with control children.
- Mothers in the PT+CT group rated their children as marginally significantly improving in social competence on the CBCL, compared with control children.
- The number of prosocial strategies used by children in the PT+CT group on the WALLY test was significantly improved compared with PT-only children, but not compared with control children.
Also with this Norwegian sample of families, Larsson et al. (2009) found the following:
- Mothers in both the PT and PT+CT groups showed significant reductions in harsh disciplining practices and inconsistent practices and significant improvements in positive parenting, compared with control mothers.
- Fathers in both the PT and PT+CT groups showed significant improvements in positive parenting, compared with control fathers.
- Parental stress was significantly lower among mothers in both the PT and PT+CT groups, compared with control mothers.
- Parental stress was significantly lower among fathers in the PT-only group, compared with control fathers.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Stoolmiller's (2008) study of classroom management and Dinosaur curriculum training found the following results:
- Observers ratings showed that teachers in the intervention group had significant improvements in warmth, social/emotion, inconsistent, and harsh/critical compared with control teachers; Head Start intervention teachers showed significant improvements in effective discipline compared with Head Start control teachers, but no effect was found for first-grade and kindergarten teachers.
- On the MOOSES scale, intervention teachers became significantly less critical compared with control teachers, but no differences were found for teacher-child involvement and teacher praise.
- Intervention classrooms had significantly improved classroom atmosphere ratings compared with control classrooms.
- Children in the intervention group showed significantly greater improvements in school readiness scores than did control children.
- There were no significant differences in classroom-level child conduct problems.
- On the WALLY test, children in the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement in the number of positive strategies generated and on the number of positive feelings they could identify, compared with control children.
- Parents in the intervention group showed marginally greater improvement in parent involvement in school, compared with control parents.
Baker-Henningham et al. (2009) found the following results when Incredible Years teacher training and Dinosaur classroom curriculum were used in Jamaica:
- Teachers in the intervention group showed significantly greater levels of positive behaviors, significantly lower levels of negative behaviors, significantly higher levels of warmth, and marginally significant improvement in teacher command, compared with control teachers.
- Intervention classrooms had significantly improved levels of children's appropriate classroom behavior and significantly improved interest and enthusiasm, compared with control classrooms.
- In addition, intervention classrooms showed significant improvement in opportunities for children to share and help each other, compared with control classrooms.
Herman et al. (2011) found the following effecting of multiple Incredible Years training components on children's internalizing behaviors:
- Children in the treatment group that included all three components (child training, parent training, and teacher training) showed significantly greater improvement in internalizing behaviors, as reported by mothers, than the waiting-list control children.
- Children in the treatment group that included teacher training and parent training showed marginally significantly greater improvement in internalizing behaviors, as reported by mothers, than the waiting-list control children.
- No other treatment conditions showed significant improvement in children's internalizing behaviors, compared with the waiting-list control group.
Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Beauchaine (2011) found the following results associated with families of children with signs of ADHD that received both Incredible Years parent training and Incredible Years child training:
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children in the externalizing behavior scale, according to both mother and father reports on the CBCL.
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children in aggression and attention scales, according to mother reports on the CBCL.
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children in opposition, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity scales, according to both mother and father reports on the Conner's Parent Rating Scale-Revised.
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children in behavior problem and intensity scales, according to both mother and father reports on the ECBI.
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children in emotion regulation and social competence, according to both mother and father reports on the Social Competence Scale.
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children in the externalizing behavior scale, according to teacher report on the Teacher Report Form.
- Parents of children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted parents on laboratory observations of critical/negative statements (reduced) and praise (increased).
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children on laboratory observations of child deviance.
- Children in the treatment group showed significant improvement over waitlisted children on researcher observations of social behaviors (i.e. concentration, acceptance of authority) in school.
Public and private preschool programs and elementary schools; small group therapists, Head Start and other child care centers.
Note that all funding figures reported here are in 2011 dollars. The BASIC and Baby parent training programs range from $1,300 to $1,895. The ADVANCED parent training program costs $995, and the BASIC supplement program costs $595. The teacher training program can be ordered for $1,250, and the child training series can be purchased for $1,150 and $1,250. Supplemental DVDs may be purchased for $195 to $595. A variety of extra and supplemental materials are available for $1 to $360. Prices do not include shipping or bulk-order discounts.
Seattle-based workshops (including parent and teacher group leader training) cost $400 for a three-day workshop and $300 for a two-day workshop. Prices do not include travel fees. To receive on-site workshops, the cost is $1,500 to $2,000 per day for a trainer, plus an additional $750 to cover the trainer's travel ($1,750 to $2,000 for overseas travel).
Consultation fees are $75 per hour for videotape review, $150 per hour for phone consultations, $200 for a consultation day in Seattle, and $450 for a certification (which includes two videotape reviews).
For detailed cost information about the suggested budgets for each program component, visit the "Cost Planning for Administrators—Implementing the Incredible Years Programs" page on the Incredible Years website at:
The parenting, child, and teacher training programs target different precursors of conduct problems in the home, classroom, and school setting and with the child individually or in his or her peer group. Additionally, the programs are tailored to meet the needs of specific age groups or may target specific skill sets. Implementers of Incredible Years can select the program and components that most closely meet their needs.
Training is not required but is highly recommended by Incredible Years staff for effective program delivery. Workshops in the parent and child programs are offered regularly in Seattle and on request elsewhere in the United States and abroad. Training for Incredible Years programs includes the content of the programs as well as the processes and methods of delivery. Trainers model group-leader skills and use videotape examples of actual interventions. Six program workshops are offered:
- parent group leader BASIC workshop, for ages 2-8 or 6-12 years (three days)
- parent group leader ADVANCE workshop, for ages 4-12 (two days)
- parent group leader Baby workshop, for babies one month to one year (two days)
- small group therapist Dinosaur social skills and problem solving training for children workshop, for ages 4-8 (three days)
- teacher and school counselor teacher classroom management and classroom-based Dinosaur Curriculum workshop, for ages 3-8 (three days)
- teacher classroom management group leader training, for ages 3-8 (three days).
Incredible Years also offers a one-day "Consultation Day" workshop for professionals that have led at least one parenting group. The consultation day focuses on in-depth issues related to leading groups. In addition, Incredible Years program staff are available for consultation and offer critical review of videotaped sessions that are submitted by clients for feedback.
Curriculum: Parent Training Program
The parent training programs use a collaborative process, with group discussions guided by trained facilitators. Program materials include DVDs, detailed group-facilitator manuals (including questions for group discussion), parents' books, and materials for home-based activities, such as conversation card games, stickers, and detective books.
Curriculum: Child Training Program
The Dinosaur Child Training Program emphasizes understanding and communicating feelings, friendship development, anger management, interpersonal problem-solving (e.g., waiting, taking turns), and doing well in school. The small-group therapy materials include a therapist manual, three DVDs, stickers, books, a home activity manual, and other tools, such as a feelings wheel and a detective kit box. The classroom curriculum materials include teacher lesson plans, books, home activities for children, three DVDs, and other tools, such as a feelings wheel and detective kit box.
Curriculum: Teacher Training Program
The teacher training program teaches how to effectively manage a classroom, how to build school readiness and prosocial skills in children, and how to reduce child aggression and noncooperation. A supplemental DVD is available that teaches how to help children cope with conflict. The classroom management program materials include seven DVDs, a group leader's manual, Dina Dinosaur's Wheel of Fortune, a Teaching Pyramid poster, a teacher's book, and a Teaching Pyramid refrigerator magnet.
Issues to Consider
The Incredible Years series received a "proven" rating for the studies evaluating the parent training program and the child training program combined. More-recent evaluations have looked at the teacher training and the child training Dinosaur classroom programs. These studies present promising results for the effectiveness at managing child behavior in the United States and proven results abroad.
Few studies have assessed the effects of the Incredible Years programs versus the outcomes for a comparison group beyond two months after program completion (only three studies that went beyond a two-month follow-up were identified). Because of the waiting-list control group design that was employed by most of the studies' authors (due to ethical concerns about not offering treatment to children assigned to control groups), longitudinal follow-up often was not possible because the untreated control group participated in the program(s) shortly after completion by the original participants. The findings from the evaluations of the Incredible Years programs are thus limited to primarily short-term results, and it is unknown whether the differences noted between treatment and control groups would be maintained in the longer run. However, the handful of longer-term studies reviewed did show some significant extended program effects.
Using outcomes data from 21 groups of families participating in six clinical trials, Foster, Olchowski, and Webster-Stratton (2007) estimated the cost-effectiveness of combining the child training, parent training, and teacher training components of Incredible Years. The study found that if policymakers are willing to pay at least $3,000 (in 2007 dollars) to treat child behavior problems, combining parent and teacher training is most likely to be cost-effective, based on teacher-reported problem behaviors. For parent-reported behaviors, the most likely cost-effective option is to combine all three program components.
Multiple states (e.g., Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota) and numerous international sites (e.g., Australia, Canada, England, Jamaica, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Portugal, and the Netherlands).
Lisa St. George
The Incredible Years, Inc.
1411 8th Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: (206) 285-7565
Toll-free phone and fax: (888) 506-3562
The Incredible Years website, www.incredibleyears.com, is a comprehensive resource that provides information on Incredible Years programs, training, workshops, evaluation, implementation, and materials.
August, Gerald J., George M. Realmuto, Joel M. Hektner, and Michael L. Bloomquist, "An Integrated Components Preventive Intervention for Aggressive Elementary School Children: The Early Risers Program,"
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,
Vol. 69, No. 4, 2001, pp. 614-626.
Baker-Henningham, H., S. Walker, C. Powell, and J. Meeks Gardner, "A Pilot Study of the Incredible Years Teacher Training Programme and a Curriculum Unit on Social and Emotional Skills in Community Pre-Schools in Jamaica," Child: Care, Health and Development, Vol. 35, No. 5, September 2009, pp. 624-631.
Baydar, Nazli, M. Jamila Reid, and Carolyn Webster-Stratton, "The Role of Mental Health Factors and Program Engagement in the Effectiveness of a Preventive Parenting Program for Head Start Mothers," Child Development, Vol. 74, No. 5, 2003, pp. 1433-1453.
Brotman, Laurie Miller, Rachel G. Klein, Dimitra Kamboukos, Elissa J. Brown, Stephanie Irby Coard, and Laura Stout Sosinksy, "Preventive Intervention for Urban, Low-Income Preschoolers at Familial Risk for Conduct Problems: A Randomized Pilot Study," Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2003, pp. 246-257.
Drugli, May Britt, and Bo Larsson, "Children Aged 4-8 Years with Parent Training and Child Therapy Because of Conduct Problems: Generalization Effects to Day-Care and School Settings," European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 15, No. 7, 2006, pp. 392-399.
Drugli, May Britt, Bo Larsson, and Graham Clifford, "Changes in Social Competence in Young Children Treated Because of Conduct Problems as Viewed by Multiple Informants," European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 16, No. 6, 2007, pp. 370-378.
Foster, E. Michael, Allison E. Olchowski, and Carolyn H. Webster-Stratton, "Is Stacking Intervention Components Cost-Effective? An Analysis of the Incredible Years Program," Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 46, No. 11, 2007, pp. 1414-1424.
Gardner, Frances, Jennifer Burton, and Ivana Klimes, "Randomised Controlled Trial of a Parenting Intervention in the Voluntary Sector for Reducing Child Conduct Problems: Outcomes and Mechanisms of Change," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 47, No. 11, 2006, pp. 1123-1132.
Gross, Deborah, Louis Fogg, and Sharon Tucker, "The Efficacy of Parent Training for Promoting Positive Parent-Toddler Relationships," Research in Nursing and Health, Vol. 18, No. 6, 1995, pp. 489-499.
Gross, Deborah, Louis Fogg, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Christine Garvey, Wrenetha Julion, and Jane Grady, "Parent Training of Toddlers in Day Care in Low-Income Urban Communities," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 71, No. 2, 2003, pp. 261-278.
Hartman, Renee R., Scott A. Stage, and Carolyn Webster-Stratton, "A Growth Curve Analysis of Parent Training Outcomes: Examining the Influence of Child Risk Factors (Inattention, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity Problems), Parental and Family Risk Factors," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 44, No. 3, 2003, pp. 388-398.
Herman, Keith C., Lindsay A. Borden, Wendy M. Reinke, and Carolyn Webster-Stratton, "The Impact of the Incredible Years Parent, Child, and Teacher Training Programs on Children's Co-Occurring Internalizing Symptoms," School Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2011, pp. 189-201.
Hutchings, Judy, Dave Daley, Karen Jones, Pam Martin, Tracy Bywater, and Rhiain Gwyn, "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, Vol. 2, No. 3, 2007, pp. 15-26.
Hutchings, Judy, Eleanor Lane, Richard Ellis Owen, and Rhiain Gwyn, "The Introduction of the Webster-Stratton Classroom Dinosaur School Programme in Gwynedd, North Wales: A Pilot Study," Educational and Child Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 4, 2004, pp. 4-15.
Hutchings, Judy, Tracey Bywater, Dave Daley, Frances Gardner, Chris Whitaker, Karen Jones, Catrin Eames, and Rhiannon Edwards, British Medical Journal, Vol. 334, March 31, 2007, pp. 678-682.
Jones, K., D. Daley, J. Hutchings, T. Bywater, T., and C. Eames, "Efficacy of the Incredible Years Basic Parent Training Programme as an Early Intervention for Children with Conduct Problems and ADHD," Child: Care, Health and Development, Vol. 33, No. 6, November 2007, pp. 749-756.
Larsson, Bo, Sturla Fossum, Graham Clifford, May Britt Drugli, Bjorn Helge Handegard, and Willy-Tore Morch, "Treatment of Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Problems in Young Norwegian Children: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial," European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 18. No. 1, 2009, pp. 42-52.
Lau, Anna S., Joey J. Fung, Lorinda Y. Ho, and Lisa L. Liu, "Parent Training with High-Risk Immigrant Chinese Families: A Pilot Group Randomized Trial Yielding Practice-Based Evidence," Behavior Therapy, Vol. 42, 2011, pp. 413-426.
Lees, Dianne G., and Kevin R. Ronan, "Parent Management Training for Solo Mothers of Children Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: An Effectiveness and Multiple Baseline Evaluation," unpublished, 2005. As of January 31, 2013: http://www.incredibleyears.com/library/paper.asp?nMode=1&nLibraryID=439
Linares, L. Oriana, Daniela Montalto, MinMin Li, and Vikash S. Oza, "A Promising Parenting Intervention in Foster Care," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 74, No. 1, 2006, pp. 32-41.
McIntyre, Laura Lee, "Parent Training for Young Children with Developmental Disabilities: Randomized Controlled Trial," American Journal of Mental Retardation, Vol. 113, No. 5, 2008, pp. 356-368.
Morch, Willy-Tore, Graham Clifford, Bo Larsson, Per Rypdal, Torill Tjeflaat, Jim Lurie, May Britt Drugli, Sturla Fossum, and Charlotte Reedtz, The Incredible Years: The Norwegian Webster-Stratton Programme 1998-2004, 2004. As of January 31, 2013: http://www.incredibleyears.com/library/paper.asp?nMode=1&nLibraryID=420
Olchowski, Allison, E. Michael Foster, and Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Implementing Behavioral Intervention Components in a Cost-Effective Manner: An Assessment of the Incredible Years Program, 2006. As of January 31, 2013: http://www.incredibleyears.com/Library/items/cost-effectiveness-of-the-incredible-years-program_9-13-06.pdf
Patterson, Jacoby, Jane Barlow, Carole Mockford, Ivana Klimes, Cecilia Pyper, and Sarah Stewart-Brown, "Improving Mental Health Through Parenting Programmes: Block Randomised Controlled Trial," Archives of Diseases in Children, Vol. 87, 2002, pp. 472-477.
Raver, C. Cybele, Jones, Stephanie M., Li-Grining, Christine P., Metzger, Molly, Champion, Kina M., and Sardin, Latriese, "Improving Preschool Classroom Processes: Preliminary Findings from a Randomized Trial Implemented in Head Start Settings," Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Vol. 23, 2008, pp. 10-26.
Reid, M. Jamila, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, and Mary Hammond, "Follow-Up of Children Who Received the Incredible Years Intervention for Oppositional-Defiant Disorder: Maintenance and Prediction of 2-Year Outcome," Behavior Therapy, Vol. 34, No. 4, 2003, pp. 471-491.
Reid, M. Jamila, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, and Nazli Baydar, "Halting the Development of Conduct Problems in Head Start Children: The Effects of Parent Training," Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2004, pp. 279-291.
Reid, M. Jamila, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, and Theodore P. Beauchaine, "Parent Training in Head Start: A Comparison of Program Response Among African-American, Asian American, Caucasian, and Hispanic Mothers," Prevention Science, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2001, pp. 209-227.
Scott, Stephen, Quentin Spender, Moira Doolan, Brian Jacobs, and Helen Aspland, "Multicentre Controlled Trial of Parenting Groups for Childhood Antisocial Behaviour in Clinical Practice," British Medical Journal, Vol. 323, 2001, pp. 1-7.
Spaccarelli, Steve, Sheldon Cotler, and Doris Penman, "Problem-Solving Skills Training as a Supplement to Behavioral Parent Training," Cognitive Therapy and Research, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1992, pp. 1-18.
Taylor, Ted K., Fred Schmidt, Debra Pepler, and Christine Hodgins, "A Comparison of Eclectic Treatment with Webster-Stratton's Parents and Children Series in a Children's Mental Health Center: A Randomized Controlled Trial," Behavior Therapy, Vol. 29, 1998, pp. 221-240.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Advancing Videotape Parent Training: A Comparison Study," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 62, No. 3, 1994, pp. 583-593.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Early-Onset Conduct Problems: Does Gender Make a Difference?" Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 64, No. 3, 1996, pp. 540-551.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Self-Administered Videotape Parent Training for Families with Conduct-Problem Children," Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 5, 1990a, pp. 479-492.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Individually Administered Videotape Parent Training: Who Benefits?" Cognitive Therapy and Research, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1992, pp. 31-35.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Long-Term Follow-Up of Families with Young Conduct Problem Children: From Preschool to Grade School," Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 2, 1990b, pp. 144-149.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Predictors of Treatment Outcome in Parent Training for Conduct-Disordered Children," Behavior Therapy, Vol. 16, No. 2, 1985, pp. 223-243.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Preventing Conduct Problems in Head Start Children: Strengthening Parent Competencies," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 66, No. 5, 1998, pp. 715-730.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Randomized Trial of Two Parent-Training Programs for Families with Conduct-Disordered Children," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 52, No. 4, 1984, pp. 666-678.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Systematic Comparison of Consumer Satisfaction of Three Cost-Effective Parent Training Programs for Conduct-Problem Children," Behavior Therapy, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1989, pp. 103-115.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, "Teaching Mothers Through Videotape Modeling to Change Their Children's Behavior," Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1982, pp. 279-294.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, and Keith C. Herman, "The Impact of Parent Behavior-Management Training on Child Depressive Symptoms," Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol. 55, No. 4, 2008, pp. 473-484.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, and Mary Hammond, "Treating Children with Early-Onset Conduct Problems: A Comparison of Child and Parent Training Interventions," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 65, No. 1, 1997, pp. 93-109.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, Jamila Reid, and Mary Hammond, "Social Skills and Problem-Solving Training for Children with Early-Onset Conduct Problems: Who Benefits?" Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, Vol. 42, No. 7, 2001b, pp. 943-952.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, M. Jamila Reid, and Mary Hammond, "Preventing Conduct Problems, Promoting Social Competence: A Parent and Teacher Training Partnership in Head Start," Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2001a, pp. 283-302.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, M. Jamila Reid, and Mary Hammond, "Treating Children with Early-Onset Conduct Problems: Intervention Outcomes for Parent, Child, and Teacher Training," Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2004, pp. 105-124.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, M. Jamila Reid, and Mike Stoolmiller, "Preventing Conduct Problems and Improving School Readiness: Evaluation of the Incredible Years Teacher and Child Training Programs in High-Risk Schools," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 49, No. 5, 2008, pp. 471-488.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, M. Jamila Reid, and Ted Beauchaine, "Combining Parent and Child Training for Young Children with ADHD," Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Vol. 40, No. 2, 2011, pp. 191-203.
Webster-Stratton, Carolyn, Mary Kolpacoff, and Terri Hollinsworth, "Self-Administered Videotape Therapy for Families with Conduct-Problem Children: Comparison with Two Cost-Effective Treatments and a Control Group," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 56, No. 4, 1988, pp. 558-566.
Williford, Amanda P., and Terri L. Shelton, "Using Mental Health Consultation to Decrease Disruptive Behaviors in Preschoolers: Adapting an Empirically-Supported Intervention," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2008, pp. 191-200.