The short-term goals of the Incredible Years Series are to:
- Strengthen children’s social skills and appropriate play skills (turn taking, waiting, asking, sharing, helping, complimenting).
- Promote children’s use of self-control strategies such as effective problem solving steps
- Increase emotional awareness by labeling feelings, recognizing the differing views of oneself and others and enhancing perspective taking.
- Boost academic success, reading and school readiness.
- Reduce defiance, aggressive behavior, and related conduct problems such as noncompliance, peer aggression and rejection, bullying, stealing and lying.
- Decrease children’s negative cognitive attributions and conflict management approaches.
- Increase self-esteem and self-confidence.
The long-term goals of these early prevention programs are to:
- Reduce violence, drug abuse and delinquency in later years.
- These short- and long-term goals are accomplished by promoting parent, teacher and child competencies.
Promote parent competencies and strengthen families:
- Increase positive and nurturing parenting.
- Reduce critical and violent discipline approaches by replacing spanking with positive strategies such as ignoring, using logical and natural consequences, redirecting, adequate monitoring, and problem-solving.
- Improve parents’ problem-solving skills, anger management, and communication skills.
- Increase family support networks and school involvement.
- Help parents and teachers work collaboratively to ensure consistency across settings.
- Increase parents’ involvement in children’s academic-related activities at home.
Promote teacher competencies and strengthen home-school connections:
- Strengthen teachers’ effective classroom management skills, including proactive teaching approaches.
- Increase teachers’ use of effective discipline strategies.
- Increase teachers’ collaborative efforts with parents and promotion of parents’ school involvement.
- Increase teachers’ ability to teach social skills, anger management, and problem-solving skills in the classroom.
- Decrease levels of classroom aggression.
Targeted Risk and Protective Factors
- Parenting Practices. Harsh or ineffective parenting skills (such as spanking), a lack of parental monitoring and nurturing relationship with children and low involvement in school-related activities are related to the development of children’s aggressive behavior, poor social skills, and academic underachievement (which in themselves are important risk factors for the development of violence, delinquency, and substance abuse). Training in effective parenting can not only reduce violence and boost parents’ self-confidence but also contribute to children’s enhanced social competence, which will then in turn promote stronger bonding and relationships with parents (which are linked to positive child outcomes).
- Teaching Practices. Harsh and critical teaching approaches, a poorly managed classroom and failure to collaborate with parents contribute to escalating classroom aggression, which, in turn facilitates the ongoing development of aggression, the child’s poor attachment to the teacher and school, and eventual school dropout. Training in effective classroom management strategies and curriculum related to promoting emotional and social literacy can not only reduce aggression and rejection but also contribute to children’s enhanced social competence and stronger school bonding.
- Child Social Competence: Young children with poor social skills are more likely to be rejected by their peer group and to become lonely, isolated and unhappy. Over time this exclusion provides fewer and fewer socialization opportunities with other children which in turn contributes to their social and emotional lags. Eventually such children may develop friendships with other children who are isolated, depressed and aggressive and form deviant peer groups. Training children with poor social competence in skills such as how to play with other children, affective awareness, how to be friendly and talk to peers as well as in self-control and how to problem solve conflict situations can result in less aggressive responses, more positive friendships and belonging to more prosocial groups (which in themselves are important protective factors).
Child Conduct Problems. Young children with high rates of aggressive behavior problems have been shown to be at greatest risk for continuing on the trajectory to deviant peer groups, school drop out, delinquency, substance abuse, and violence. Ultimately the aim of the teacher, parent and child training programs is to prevent and reduce the occurrence of aggressive and oppositional behavior, thus reducing the chance of developing later delinquent behaviors. Each of the programs in the Incredible Years Series seeks to alter the quality of relationships between parents and children, teachers and children, teachers and parents, group facilitators and parents, and children with their peers.