Book Review of The Incredible Years by Carolyn Webster-Stratton

A Trouble Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 3-8

Carolyn Webster-Stratton's The Incredible Years offers parenting strategies for children ages 3 to 8.
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Carolyn Webster-Stratton’s, The Incredible Years, is almost like an owner’s manual for parents of children from toddlers to tweens. In a clear and concise manner, the book addresses many basic parenting issues and discipline techniques.

Although readers may be eager to learn how to give their children effective consequences, the book begins by focusing on building a positive relationship with your child.

A healthy parent-child relationship increases the effectiveness of discipline techniques, such as time-out, and serves as a healthy foundation for any behavior management program. 

The Incredible Years emphasizes the importance of giving kids positive attention to reinforce good behaviors. It also explains how to use a reward system and praise to teach new skills. It offers a practical step-by-step approach to increase compliance and decrease problematic behaviors such as whining, aggression, and defiance.

The second part of the book focuses stress reduction strategies for parents. Webster-Stratton normalizes the feelings of anger, embarrassment, and frustration that can arise for parents as they address a child's behavior problems.

The Incredible Years concludes with strategies for dealing with common behavior problems. Each specific behavior problem, such as lying or stealing, is described and the reasons for these behaviors are discussed.

Parents are offered step-by-step strategies to address the behavior and prevent further problems.

The Incredible Years Table of Contents

Part One: Foundations for Successful Parenting

  • Chapter One: How to Play With Your Child
  • Chapter Two: Praise
  • Chapter Three: Tangible Rewards
  • Chapter Four: Limit-Setting
  • Chapter Five: Ignore
  • Chapter Six: Timeout
  • Chapter Seven: Natural and Logical Consequences
  • Chapter Eight: Teaching Children to Problem-Solve

Part Two: Communicating and Problem-Solving

  • Chapter Nine: Controlling Upsetting Thoughts
  • Chapter Ten: Timeout from Stress and Anger
  • Chapter Eleven: Effective Communication Skills
  • Chapter Twelve: Problem-Solving with Adults

Part Three: Coping with Common Behavior Problems

  • Problem One: TV Addicts
  • Problem Two: Behavior in Public Places
  • Problem Three: Dawdling
  • Problem Four: Sibling Rivalry
  • Problem Five: Child Disobedience
  • Problem Six: Resistance Going to Bed
  • Problem Seven: Night-Time Wakenings
  • Problem Eight: Stealing
  • Problem Nine: Lying
  • Problem Ten: Mealtime Problems
  • Problem Eleven: Bedwetting
  • Problem Twelve: Hyperactivity, Impulsiveness, and Short Attention Spans
  • Problem Thirteen: Helping Your Children with Divorce

What Makes The Incredible Years Different

With an overwhelming number of parenting books on the market it can be difficult to know where to start. Carolyn Webster-Stratton's The Incredible Years stands out from the rest. It's not just a book for kids with behavioral problems, it's a must-read for any parents of children from ages 2 to 12.

Although it contains similar strategies to those taught in 1-2-3 Magic, The Incredible Years encourages if...then warnings instead of counting to three for non-compliance.

Webster-Stratton's method gives children a clear warning about what consequence they'll receive if they don't follow directions, which gives children an opportunity to make a good choice.

Who Can Benefit From Reading This Book

The Incredible Years is often used as part of a larger curriculum. Trained facilitators at mental health agencies, doctor’s offices, school departments and social service agencies use the curriculum in parenting groups. There is even a curriculum for teachers who want to learn more about classroom management.

For motivated parents, however, the book can easily stand alone and can serve as a guide on the basics of behavior management without the need to attend the course.