Summary of Incredible Years Training Series' Effectiveness

As noted above, the BASIC program appears highly effective in reducing child conduct problems by promoting social competence, reducing parents' violent methods of discipline, and improving their child management skills. For clinic children with conduct problems, the cycle of aggression appears to have been halted for approximately two-thirds of the treated families. (This includes both clinic and prevention studies.) For the Head Start children, many of whom are at high risk because of extreme poverty, protective factors such as positive parenting and children's social competence were enhanced.

The BASIC program was evaluated first as a treatment program in a series of 4 randomized studies with more than 800 children ages 3 to 8 who were referred for conduct problems. The BASIC program significantly improved parental attitudes and parent-child interactions, reduced parents' use of violent forms of discipline, and reduced child conduct problems (Webster-Stratton, 1982a, 1984, 1989, 1990b, 1994; Webster-Stratton, Hollinsworth, and Kolpacoff, 1989). The BASIC program was then evaluated as a selective prevention program in two randomized trials with more than 500 Head Start families with preschool children. This population was considered to be at high risk for conduct disorder because of the increased number of risk factors associated with poverty (Webster-Stratton, 1998). Results indicated that the parenting skills of Head Start parents who received BASIC training and the social competence of their children significantly improved compared with the control group. These data supported the hypothesis that strengthening parenting competence and increasing the involvement of high-risk mothers in children's school-related activities would help prevent children's conduct problems and promote social competence (Webster-Stratton, 1998). In a second randomized study with Head Start families, parent training was offered to parents of children in the Head Start and kindergarten years. In the kindergarten year, parents were offered the Supporting Your Child's Education program, which focuses on reading skills, and the ADVANCE program, which focuses on problem solving and peer coaching. The results, which replicated those of the first study, included increased parental involvement in schools and enhanced school readiness scores among the children (Webster-Stratton and Reid, 1999b).

The ADVANCE program has been shown to be a highly productive treatment for promoting parents' use of effective problem-solving and communication skills, reducing maternal depression, and increasing children's social and problem-solving skills (Webster-Stratton, 1994). Users have been highly satisfied with both programs, and the dropout rates have been low regardless of the family's socioeconomic status. Improvements in child conduct problems and parenting interactions have been sustained up to 4 years after intervention (Webster-Stratton, 1990b).

The effectiveness of the teacher training program has been tested by more than 200 Head Start teachers and 140 kindergarten through third grade teachers, with excellent teacher satisfaction. A randomized study with 4- to 8-year-olds who have been diagnosed with ODD/CD has recently been completed comparing groups receiving BASIC parent training and teacher training; child training and teacher training; BASIC parent training, teacher training, and child training; and the waiting-list control group. Results indicate that teacher-trained classrooms, when compared with classrooms in the control condition, had significantly fewer students who were misbehaving, off task, disruptive, or aggressive with peers and teachers. Teachers and parents from the combined intervention conditions reported a significantly higher level of collaboration, stronger home-school connections, and children with fewer behavior problems. In a second randomized study, the teacher training program was evaluated with more than 200 Head Start teachers. Results showed that in classrooms where teachers received the 6-day training, children were significantly less aggressive, more socially competent, and more on task and had higher school readiness scores than children in control Head Start classrooms where teachers did not receive the program (Webster-Stratton and Reid, 1999a).

Finally, in a randomized study, the Dina Dinosaur program was compared with BASIC parent training, BASIC parent training plus child training, child training alone, and a waiting-list control group. The results showed that the combined parent and child training was more effective than parent training alone and that both were superior to the control group. The child training program resulted in significantly improved social skills and positive conflict management strategies with peers (Webster-Stratton and Hammond, 1997).

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The Incredible Years Training Series Juvenile Justice Bulletin June 2000