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Promising Program Seal

Incredible Years® - Parent

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A group-based parenting program delivered in weekly sessions over 3-5 months that strengthens parent competencies to promote young children’s social, emotional, and academic competence and prevent the development of conduct problems.

Program Outcomes

  • Antisocial-aggressive Behavior
  • Close Relationships with Parents
  • Conduct Problems
  • Depression
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Positive Social/Prosocial Behavior

Program Type

  • Parent Training
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • Teacher Training

Program Setting

  • Community (e.g., religious, recreation)
  • Correctional Facility
  • Hospital/Medical Center
  • Mental Health/Treatment Center
  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)
  • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)
  • Indicated Prevention (Early Symptoms of Problem)


  • Early Childhood (3-4) - Preschool
  • Late Childhood (5-11) - K/Elementary


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising
  • Crime Solutions: Effective
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • SAMHSA: 3.6-3.7

Program Information Contact

Jamila Reid, Director of Operations
Incredible Years, Inc.
1411 8th Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119 USA
phone: 206-285-7565

Program Developer/Owner

  • Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.
  • Incredible Years, Inc.

Brief Description of the Program

The Incredible Years Series is a set of interlocking and comprehensive group training programs for parents, teachers, and children with the goal of preventing, reducing, and treating behavioral and emotional problems in children ages two to twelve. The series addresses multiple risk factors across settings known to be related to the development of conduct disorders in children. In all three training programs, trained facilitators use video scenes to encourage group discussion, self-reflection, modeling and practice rehearsals, problem-solving, sharing of ideas and support networks. Program descriptions of the teacher and child training components are available in separate write-ups.

There are three BASIC parent training programs that target key developmental stages. Program length varies, but generally lasts between three to five months: Baby and Toddler Program (0-2 ½ years; 9-13 sessions), Preschool Program (3-5 years; 18-20 sessions) and School Age Program (6-12 years; 12-16+ sessions). These parent programs emphasize developmentally appropriate parenting skills known to promote children’s social competence, emotional regulation and academic skills and to reduce behavior problems. The BASIC parent program is the core of the parenting programs and must be implemented, as Blueprints recognition is based upon evaluations of this program. This BASIC parent training component emphasizes parenting skills such as child directed play with children; academic, persistence, social and emotional coaching methods; using effective praise and incentives; setting up predictable routines and rules and effective limit-setting; handling misbehavior with proactive discipline and teaching children to problem solve.

See: Full Description


Randomized control group evaluations of the parenting series indicated significant:

  • Reductions in conduct problems at school and at home with mothers and fathers.
  • Increases in children's positive affect and compliance to parental commands.
  • Reductions in parental depression and increases in parental self-confidence.

An evaluation of the parenting program to assess children's mood and depression showed (Webster-Stratton & Herman, 2008):

  • Children had lower mother-rated internalizing and depressed mood symptoms than a control group at posttest.

Selected outcomes found in independent replications of the parent program in Wales, Great Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Portugal (Hutchings et al., 2007; Gardner et al., 2006; Larsson et al., 2009; Leijten et al., 2015; Menting et al., 2014; McGilloway et al., 2009; McGilloway et al., 2012; Posthumus et al. 2011; Seabra-Santos et al., 2016) include significant improvement in treatment children as compared to control children for:

  • Antisocial behavior
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Conduct problems
  • Externalizing behavior
  • Social skills

These same studies (Hutchings et al., 2007; Gardner et al., 2006; Larsson et al., 2009; Leijten et al., 2015; Menting et al., 2014; McGilloway et al., 2009; McGilloway et al., 2012; Posthumus et al. 2011; Seabra-Santos et al., 2016) also found significant improvement for treatment caregivers as compared to control caregivers in:

  • Negative parenting practices
  • Perceptions of self-efficacy

One randomized control group evaluation that assessed teachers implementing the parent program with toddlers indicated significant (Gross et al., 2003):

  • Improvement in classroom behavior problems among high-risk children at post-intervention. However, at one-year follow-up, most children in the high-risk classroom behavior problem groups improved regardless of condition.

Four randomized control group evaluations assessing the additive benefit of the child training series indicated (Webster-Stratton & Hammond, 1997, 2004; Larsson et al., 2009; Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Beauchaine, 2011):

  • Significant positive program effects on both mother and father negative and positive parenting behaviors when the child training component was included with the parent intervention.
  • Significant reductions in children's problem behaviors.
  • Less mother-reported aggression and parent stress.
  • Significant improvements in observer-reported child total deviant behaviors, children's emotional vocabulary and problem-solving abilities, and teacher-reported externalizing behavior in a sample of preschool children with ADHD.

A randomized control trial assessing the additive benefit of teacher training (Parent + Teacher) showed (Webster-Stratton et al., 2004):

  • Fewer child conduct problems at school and at home with both mothers and fathers.
  • Mother and father negative parenting decreased and mother positive parenting increased.
  • Teachers less negative.

A meta-analysis (Menting et al., 2013) found a significant average effect size across 50 studies for:

  • Reductions in child disruptive behavior (d = .27, p < .001).
  • Increases in child prosocial behavior (d = .23, p < .001).

Significant program effects on Risk and Protective Factors include:

  • Increases in positive parenting such as coaching, praise, and limit-setting and reductions in negative parenting such as the use of criticism and negative commands and harsh discipline.
  • Increases in positive family communication and problem-solving.
  • Reductions in stress and depression, and improvements in parenting competencies (independent replications in Europe and Scandinavia).

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Samples have been diverse, with a majority of ethnic minority youth and parents.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Individual: Early initiation of antisocial behavior, Hyperactivity*
  • Family: Family history of problem behavior, Neglectful parenting, Parent aggravation*, Parent stress*, Poor family management*, Psychological aggression/discipline*, Violent discipline*
  • School: Poor academic performance
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Clear standards for behavior*, Problem solving skills*, Skills for social interaction
  • Family: Attachment to parents, Non-violent discipline*, Opportunities for prosocial involvement with parents, Parent social support, Parental involvement in education, Rewards for prosocial involvement with parents

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: Incredible Years® - Parent Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

Parent Group Leader Training BASIC (ages 2-8):

This 3-day training will prepare group leaders to lead three different basic parenting programs: (1) toddler program (ages 1-3 years) which is 12 weekly sessions; (2) preschool program (ages 3-6 years) which is 18-20 sessions; and (3) early school age program (ages 6-8 years) which is 12 sessions (four additional for the Supporting your Child's Education component). The PARENTING PYRAMID TM teaches the following content: child-directed play, academic, persistence, social and emotional coaching, praise and encouragement, predictable routines, effective limit setting, nonphysical discipline alternatives, teaching children to problem solve, and supporting children's education, and guides the progression of the course and the order of the content building blocks. Group therapy process issues such as empowering parents, collaborating, dealing with resistance, confronting and teaching, supporting and advocating for parents are discussed in terms of their ability to sustain the pyramid's structure.

These intervention programs may be used by professionals (such as therapists and parent educators from psychology, social work, education, nursing and psychiatry) who are working with families of young children diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ADHD or aggressive behavior problems or anxiety and internalizing problems (ages 3-8 years), or with higher risk socio-economically disadvantaged families, as well as court ordered families, foster parents, and teenage parents. The parenting pyramid workshop will also teach how to use this program as a prevention program in elementary schools and preschools.

Parent Group Leader Training BASIC (ages 6-12):

This 3-day training will prepare group leaders to lead the 16-18 session school age program (ages 6-12 years). The PARENTING PYRAMID TM teaches the following content: special time (PLAY), academic, social and emotional coaching, praise and incentives, rules and responsibilities, limit setting, prosocial discipline, problem solving and ways to foster homework completion and after school monitoring as well as support children's learning at school. Group leaders already trained in the version of BASIC training that includes early School Age (ages 6-8) may receive a 1-day supplemental training workshop for using the School Age program with parents of children ages 9-12.

Training Certification Process

The certification for the IY Parent program requires successful completion of:

  • Three-day approved training workshop from a certified trainer for the BASIC program.
  • Completion of two groups, minimum.
  • Feedback from a mentor or trainer - supervision, group consultation, coaching, or phone consultation.
  • Peer review of groups by co-facilitator using the peer-evaluation form.
  • Self-evaluation of two groups using the self-evaluation form.
  • Trainer review of groups or DVDs of groups (two sessions - second one is after feedback from first review is considered).
  • Session checklists for each session, showing the mimimal number of sessions delivered and core vignettes shown.
  • Submission of evaluations from two groups and final cumulative parent or teacher evaluations. (Evaluation materials are provided with program materials or may be downloaded from website.)
  • Background questionnaire.
  • Application.
  • Two letters of recommendation from other professionals who are able to speak to your background and work with this program.

Once a person has become certified as a group facilitator, s/he is then eligible to be invited to become trained as a peer coach and certified mentor of group facilitators. Becoming a mentor permits the person to train other facilitators in their own agency and to provide mentoring and supervision of their groups.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The BASIC toddler, preschool and school-age programs of The Incredible Years have been evaluated extensively in a series of randomized studies with children referred to the program for conduct problems and with high risk, economically disadvantaged families. The ADVANCE program, designed to enhance parents' communication and problem-solving skills, has been evaluated as an add-on component to BASIC in at least four randomized studies for parents of children diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The SCHOOL program, designed to help parents better support their children's education, has been evaluated in at least two randomized studies, as both an indicated and selective prevention program. The BASIC program has also been evaluated in at least eight independent replications in the U.S. and Europe using randomized studies.

Peer Implementation Sites

Offers School Age BASIC and Early Childhood/Preschool BASIC parent training groups:
Contact Person: Dean Coffey
Organization Name: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Address: 4650 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone: (323) 660-2450
Organization URL:

Offers Preschool BASIC Parent Program:
Contact Person: Judy Ohm or Angie Clair
Organization Name: Wilder Foundation, Parent Education Center
Address: 451 Lexington Pkwy. North, St. Paul, MN 55104
Phone: 651-280-2606
Organization URL:


Gardner, F., Burton, J., & Klimes, I. (2006). Randomized 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, 47(11), 1123-1132.

Hurlburt, M. S., Nguyen, K., Reid, J., Webster-Stratton, C., & Zhang, J. (2008). Efficacy of the Incredible Years group parent program with families in Head Start who self-reported a history of child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37, 531-543.

Hutchings, J., Bywater, T., Daley, D., Gardner, F., Whitaker, C., Jones, K., Eames, C., & Edwards, R. (2007). Parenting intervention in Sure Start services for children at risk of developing conduct disorder: pragmatic randomised controlled trial. BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.39126.620799.55 (published 9 March 2007).

Lavigne, J. V., LeBailly, S. A., Gouze, K. R., Cicchetti, C., Pochyly, J., Arend, R., Jessup, B. W., & Binns, H. J. (2008). Treating oppositional defiant disorder in primary care: A comparison of three models. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 33(5),449-461.

Leijten, P., Raaijmakers, M. A. J., de Castro, B. O., van den Ban, E., & Matthys, W. (2015). Effectiveness of the Incredible Years Parenting Program for families with socioeconomically disadvantaged and ethnic minority backgrounds. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, Published Online DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2015.1038823.

Letarte, M. J., Normandeau, S. & Allard, J. (2010). Effectiveness of a parent training program "Incredible Years" in a child protection service. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34, 253-261.

Little, M., Berry, V., Morpeth, L., Blower, S., Axford, N., Taylor, R., Bywater, T., Lehtonen, M., & Tobin, K. (2012). The impact of three evidence-based programmes delivered in public systems in Birmingham, UK.International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 6(2), 260-272.

Menting, A. T. A., de Castro, B. O., & Matthys, W. (2013). Effectiveness of the Incredible Years parent training to modify disruptive and prosocial child behavior: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 901-913.

Menting, A. T. A., de Castro, B. O., Wijngaards-de Meij, L. D. N. V., & Matthys, W. (2014). A trial of parent training for mothers being released from incarceration and their children. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 43, 381-396.

Seabra-Santos, M. J., Gaspar, M. F., Azevedo, A. F., Homem, T. C., Guerra, J., Martins, V., ... Moura-Ramos, M. (2016). Incredible Years parent training: What changes, for whom, how, for how long? Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 44, 93-104.

Webster-Stratton, C. (1981). Modification of mothers' behaviors and attitudes through videotape modeling group discussion program. Behavior Therapy, 12, 634-632.

Webster-Stratton, C. (1982a) The long-term effects of a videotape modeling parent training program: Comparison of immediate and one year follow-up results. Behavior Therapy, 13, 702-714.

Webster-Stratton, C. (1982b) Teaching mothers through videotape modeling to change their children's behaviors. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 7, 279-294.

Webster-Stratton, C., & Herman, K. C. (2008). The impact of parent behavior-management training on child depressive symptoms. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55(4),473-484.