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The Webster Stratton Incredible Years (IY) Basic Parenting Pro-gramme: Parental satisfaction in a community group of Portuguese parents


Background. The Incredible Years Basic Parent Training Program is an evidence-based intervention, recommended by the American Psychological Association Task Force as meeting the criteria for empirically supported mental health intervention for children with conduct problems. This Programme is being used in several countries, like the UK, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Netherlands and New Zealand.


Purpose. This paper reports the preliminary results - concerning parental satisfaction - of the first group of parents that has been run in Portugal, using The Incredible Years Basic Parent Training Program.

Previously to the implementation of the Program with at risk and clinical samples, it was our aim to test its validity in a low-risk group, composed by 12 parents of preschool non-referred children (case-study). The group was run weekly in a preschool setting, at the end of the day.

The Incredible Years Basic Parent Training Programme is delivered through 12 sessions, in which issues like play, praise, effective limit setting, and handling misbehaviour are addressed. The main goals of the program are: to strengthen parent-child relationship and encourage child cooperation; to increase parents' nurturing and positive parenting skills; to encourage effective limit setting and definition of clear household rules; and to promote the use of non-violent discipline strategies.

At the end of each session, parents were asked to fill in a questionnaire concerning their level of satisfaction with regard with each of the program's components: content, DVDs, role-play, group leaders and group discussion. The parents' attendance rate was also studied and taken as an index of parental satisfaction concerning the program. Finally, in the last session parents filled in a longer questionnaire, aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the program, the teaching format, the specific parenting techniques, the therapists and the overall program.


Key findings and recommendations. Our main findings, concerning the use of the Incredible Years Parenting Program, and particularly in what parental satisfaction is concerned, are: very good rates of parental satisfaction - parents classified most of the program's components in most of the sessions as "useful" or "very useful"; high rates of parents' attendance (minimum 10 out of 12); no drop-outs; parents considered the program overall useful and not difficult to follow; high levels of parental motivation and enthusiasm, although those parents had no specific concerns regarding their children's behaviour.

It was also realised through the running of the program that each parent chose to use preferentially one or two strategies as a function of the child's or his/her own characteristics; there was very good support from the nursery school; good conditions were provided to families; those conditions might be difficult to replicate in other situations (clinical, low-income, high-risk families; support from the school...).

In a broader sense, we found the Incredible Years Basic Parenting Program:

-   very structured and easy to implement;

-   the program's principles must be followed strictly but flexibility in the implementation is recommended, according to the parents' needs;

-   several parents at the same time can benefit from the program;

-   home assignments allow for generalization;

-   gives parents a good opportunity to think about their own parental practices;

-   all this is achieved in a non-evaluative, supportive context.


As less positive features, we found that there is too much material suggested for each session; the fact that considerable physical and personal arrangements are necessary; much time for preparation; and some cultural specificity of some contents - those can, nevertheless, be adapted.

Based on these results (parents' satisfaction) and also on the results concerning parenting practices and children's outcomes (analysed elsewhere), we consider that there is empirical evidence supporting the utility and validity of the Incredible Years Basic Parenting Program also with Portuguese preschool children. Along with the extensive research published about this program, our data strongly allow for the recommendation of its use in the prevention and remediation of behaviour problems in preschool children in Portugal.


Key references

Hutchings, J., Bywater, T., & Daley, D. (in press).  Early prevention of Conduct Disorder: How and why did the North West Wales Sure Start study work? Journal of Children's Services, 2 (2).

Brotman Miller, L., Klein, R. G., Kamboukos, D., Brown, E. J., Coard Irby, S., & Sosinsky Stout, S. L. (2003). Preventive intervention for urban, low-income preschoolers at familial risk for conduct problems. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32(2), 246-257.

Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2006). Treatment and prevention of conduct problems: Parent training interventions for young children (2-7 Years Old). In K. McCartney & D. A. Phillips (Eds.), Handbook on early childhood development (pp. 616-641). Malden, MA: Blackwell.


Contacts: Maria João Seabra-Santos, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences - University of Coimbra, R. do Colégio Novo, Apartado 6153, 3001-802 Coimbra - Portugal, E-mail: seabramj@fpce.uc.pt Phone 00 351 239851456.



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