Incredible Years parenting programme

XS15_ParentingPyramid“Really eye opening and life changing.”

“Dramatically changed my parenting for the better.”

“It has been very helpful in putting structure and routine into our home..”

These are just a few of the comments made by the last group of participants in the Incredible Years parenting programme recently completed in Levin.

Incredible Years is an evidence-based parenting programme developed by Clinical Psychologist Carolyn Webster-Stratton in Seattle, Washington. The programme has been extensively researched and is now being run in a world-wide. Locally, the programme is run by Horowhenua SuperGrans in Levin and funded by the Ministry of Education.

In this last group, participants came from Levin, Foxton and Ōtaki. They committed to coming for 14 weeks for two and a half hours on a Wednesday morning. Despite the birth of 2 lovely babies during the course, everyone who started the course finished it, and most were able to come every week.

So what makes this course so special? In the first instance, we make it as easy as possible for people to participate. Petrol vouchers are given to those who need to travel. While most participants have childcare, if this needs to be organised, there will be a financial contribution. The course itself is free.

Incredible Years focuses on three to eight year olds. It makes sense of parenting, starting with learning about how to play with your children and moving through a range of parenting skills to finally the big guns such as using time-out to manage aggression, destruction and persistent non-compliance. Much of the wisdom comes from the participants themselves, supplemented by discussions of DVDs and practices of new techniques. Each week there is homework which the facilitators review and progress is discussed at the beginning of the next week. During the week, the facilitators contact the participants to find out how they are going and discuss any issues that may be coming up, so they are well supported.

But what really makes it work are the participants — warm, friendly, courageous people who want to make a difference in the lives of their children. They are willing to try new things, experiment with different ways of being, share their experiences with the others in the group and have fun while doing it.

Incredible Years is really all about becoming a conscious parent:

“I found if I spend more time on the simple things it lessens the bad behaviour.”

“I realised it is all about how I deal with stuff.”

“Even though parenting is hard, there are easier ways to parent.”

So how do we know we are making a difference? Parents fill in questionnaires before the course and then complete the same ones afterward. The results speak for themselves. In general we see considerable lessening in the types of problems identified by the parents and the intensity of the problem behaviour. Children also improve in social competency – their ability to interact positively with other children and to understand their own and other children’s feelings.

“It has given me the confidence as a parent to raise calm, happy children”.

Horowhenua SuperGrans is planning to run another Incredible Years programme starting in February next year. If you are interested, or have friends who are, you can contact Rose Cotter on 06 367 0680 or 027 332 3529, Tuesdays to Thursdays.

The final word should go to one of the participants from this last course:

“I have got way happier kids because of this programme. I have become a better Mama”.