Reflections on Incredible Year 2021 from Program Developer Carolyn Webster-Stratton
A year ago when I wrote the holiday letter for 2020 I thought that with the amazing success of available vaccines we would be out of Covid at this time. Sadly, we continue to be haunted with Covid variant challenges. Nonetheless the international team of Incredible Years mentors, coaches and group leaders have continued to be resilient and adaptable in their undaunted efforts to reach out to support parents, teachers, and children. I am overwhelmingly grateful for all our collective efforts and persistence in this work.
Incredible Years Group Leader Training
Over the past year, 44 IY mentors from 11 countries have trained 2089 group leaders in the IY parent, teacher, or child programs, either in-person or online. This has been a truly incredible achievement given the physical and emotional barriers to doing this work.
The online method of training delivery (5 to 6 three-hour online sessions) has taken off with over 1000 participants worldwide receiving online IY group leader training in 2021. This is more than twice the number trained online last year. YEAH!
Evaluations of Online Training of Group Leaders
Evaluations of the online group leader workshops have been very positive. In fact, they are rated as highly as the in-person IY program delivery method.
These trainings have involved professionals worldwide from 17 countries including Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, England, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, Slovenia, United States and Wales.
Online Consultations, Accreditation Reviews and Peer Coach Training
As we experienced the benefits and success of online workshop delivery, we began to offer online clinical consultations with small groups of 4-6 group leaders as well as individual group leader video group reviews for accreditation. Evaluations have indicated this is a successful way to both give and receive feedback with group leaders, coaches, and mentors and especially, to encourage completion of accreditation as group leaders. We also were able to offer IY peer coaching training in this format allowing us to train groups of peer coaches from 3-4 countries in the same training.
Online Program Streaming
All but one of our IY programs is now available to an online streaming format. This streaming has allowed easy access to the video vignettes, reducing some of the difficulties with DVDs or USBs. Moreover, a one-year online streaming license, with manuals and other program materials, is less expensive than a curriculum set with the DVD/USB option. This provides a reasonable entry-point for smaller agencies who are just starting their first groups or are operating on a smaller budget to test out an IY program with a lower initial investment.
Helping Children Become Resilient
Although our understanding of the impact of the pandemic on children is still evolving, it seems that despite the uncertainty and challenges of Covid, 60-70% of children have been remarkedly resilient, emotionally regulated, and able to cope with the uncertainty and ongoing stress. On the other hand, since the pandemic, there has been an upsurge in reported rates of child anxiety and internalizing symptoms. Current estimates show as many as 30-40% of children are experiencing anxiety, depression and stress. Certain groups are more at risk for anxiety disorders and are more vulnerable to the added impact of the pandemic: those living in poverty, those with unstable housing, and those with a prior history of developmental delays or mental health issues regardless of their socioeconomic background.
IY group leaders can use the Incredible Years® teacher and parent program principles to help such children learn to manage their fears and worries. Here are a few tips to highlight as goals for your IY parent and teacher groups, especially at this holiday time:
• Accept and validate children’s fears; don’t avoid talking about stressful events or dismiss children’s worries
• Use positive forecasting about their future
• Don’t avoid all situations or experiences that worry or upset your child; children need to learn how to manage them successfully
• Limit exposure to sensational media coverage
• Help children to be aware of their positive feelings when they are brave, or confident, or calm, patient, happy and curious
• Reassure children that they are not to blame for problems that are beyond their control.
• Listen empathically and normalize children’s feelings
• Be physically affectionate
• Praise children for staying calm and using a self-regulation strategy
• Provide consistency and regularity to children’s daily routine
• Use puppets and pretend play to enhance children’s learning of emotion self-regulation
• Model positive self-regulation, staying calm, being patient and using power breathing, positive self-talk and visualization of happy times.
With these goals in mind IY group leaders can help parents and teachers to immunize their children against stress overload by helping them to feel more loved, confident, and patient about the future and to believe they can manage their anxious thoughts and uncomfortable feelings with confidence. Parents and teachers have a powerful role in building their children’s self-esteem and helping their children perceive themselves as resilient at handling challenging situations.
Our Incredible Team
Here in Seattle, our incredible team of Jamila, Lisa, Emily, and Clarissa are working hard to set up online trainings and responding to your order requests. We thank you from our hearts for all your persistence and resilience at supporting families and teachers and helping them to understand and manage the effects of the pandemic on children and in particular to reach out to those who are most vulnerable at this time. Please remember we are here to support you and answer questions.
I thought you would like to know that 100% of our puppet family are vaccinated, even Santa Wally who is working hard to help children be brave and use their powerful patience muscles.
Wishing you a happy holiday and a year ahead that is joyful and rich with caring purpose.
Incredible Years, Inc.
1411 8th Avenue West, Seattle WASHINGTON 98119 United States
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