The Incredible Years® programme is designed to prevent and treat emotional and behavioural difficulties in children aged 3 to 10 years. The programme was developed in the University of Washington in Seattle by Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton. The Incredible Years® series contains three separate training programmes for parents , teachers and children (as shown on right). Whilst each programme has been designed as a stand-alone intervention, taken together, they provide a cohesive and uniform strategy to address and eliminate behavioural difficulties in children.
Why did we choose Incredible Years®?
Over almost 30 years the Incredible Years® programme has been subjected to rigorous evaluation. Based on the positive outcomes produced in these evaluations a number of separate independent reviews have found that the programme meets the highest standard of scientific proof. Indeed the Programme has been recommended by the American Psychological Association as an effective psychosocial treatment for conduct-disordered children and has also been designated as a Blueprint programme by the Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado. This evidence-based validation has seen the programme introduced in most states within the US, as well as being used by service agencies in the UK, Canada, Norway and now Ireland.
A Key Principle
The author of the Incredible Years® programme, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, in her book The Incredible Years®, A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2-8 Years explains that: the attention rule is the basic principle behind much of what is discussed in her book. She goes on:
Simply stated, it is that children will work for attention from others, especially parents, whether it is positive (praise) or negative (criticism) in nature. If they do not receive positive attention, then they will strive for negative attention since that is better than none at all.
The Incredible Years® programme, whether it is the parent, teacher or child element puts this positive approach into practice. Again in the same book, Carolyn lists the Foundations for Successful Parenting as; play, praise, tangible rewards, limit-setting, ignoring, timeout, natural and logical consequences and teaching children to problem-solve. All Incredible Years® curricula place strong emphasis on the importance of having this firm foundation laid before introducing any other elements. With these foundations in place the Incredible Years® approach examines Communicating and Problem Solving and lastly looks at Common Behaviour Problems that can arise from such areas as TV watching, behaviour in public places, child disobedience and so on.
A Key Strength
One of the important strengths of the Incredible Years® programme is its unique ability to promote an Inter Agency approach to dealing with emotional and behavioural difficulties in children. The multi-agency approach to the training of those delivering the programme brings together all resources within a community and focuses those resources very positively and collaboratively on children with difficulties.