According to leaders in child development, the first years of life matter because early experiences affect the architecture of the maturing brain. To create a strong foundation for healthy development, children need nurturing and predictable relationships with caregivers.
The Incredible Years, an evidence-based program, is helping parents around the world cope with the pressures of raising children. Developed by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, a clinical psychologist and nurse-practitioner in
The curriculum for parents focuses on play and positive involvement, praise and rewards, effective limit-setting and non-violent discipline. Participants attend two-hour sessions weekly for 12 to 16 weeks.
The preschool and school-aged Incredible Years Parent Training Programs are designed for families with children ages 3 to 12 who are exhibiting challenging behaviors and are at-risk for conduct problems. The training can also be used as a universal prevention program.
The short-term goal is to help kids get along better with peers and adults and do better academically. Long-term goals include preventing delinquency, drug abuse and violence.
“By learning the most effective parenting approaches, I have reduced my child’s behavioral problems before it got out of control,” writes one father on the Incredible Years website. “We have noticed significant changes in our child, both at home and … (in) his school.”
Working to Ensure Fidelity
That support includes hiring staff at Prevent Child Abuse North
In 2007, only one organization offered Incredible Years in
Experts say the draw of evidence-based practices is compelling, but implementing them successfully in new locations requires the right components to assure appropriate service delivery and results. Without such scaffolding in place, it’s harder for evidence-based programs to work the way they were designed to work.
“Nationally, more people are moving toward evidence-based programs – but when it comes to funding infrastructure, there’s a huge lag,” says Sarah Currier, director of evidence-based programs at Prevent Child Abuse North
“Some members of the
For its part, The Duke Endowment committed $9 million in 2008-2010 to help expand the use of The Incredible Years and several other proven, evidence-based interventions in
Finding the Right Tools
As a result, her grandchildren are calmer. They’re learning to play together and express their feelings. They look forward to weekend rewards – such as going to the park or taking a family bike ride – to celebrate a good week.
“My household has gone from constant shouting and anger, to more peaceful and loving,” Brown says. “I really feel it will be one of the best things that ever happened in our lives.”
About the Incredible Years Results
The Duke Endowment defines evidence-based interventions as programs or approaches that have been evaluated with at least two randomized controlled trials and have been successfully replicated in “real world” settings.
Six randomized control group evaluations and four independent replications by other researchers have shown that The Incredible Years is effective. According to the research the program can significantly:
- Reduce aggressive and disruptive behavior and increase “pro-social” behavior
- Reduce conduct problems in children’s interactions with parents
- Decrease the use of criticism, harsh discipline and negative commands
- Increase effective limit-setting
- Reduce parental depression and increase self-confidence
- Increase positive family communication and problem-solving
- Increase parental involvement with teachers and in the classroom
Phillip H. Redmond Jr.
Director of Child Care