Those incredible years



"Abused or neglected children are at a high risk for behavioural problems that will get worse from childhood into adulthood," emphasizes Sylvie Normandeau, scientific director of the Centre jeunesse de Montréal – Institut universitaire (CJM-IU).

Parents learn new behaviours; control their anger better; threaten, shout and hit less. 

The Incredible Years, a program developed by Carolyn Webster-Stratton of the University of Washington, is well known for its effectiveness with neglected children and children with behaviour problems. A study conducted by Sylvie Normandeau and a team of researchers has demonstrated the program's effectiveness with the clientele of the CJM–IU. For almost 10 years, the centre has offered the program to parents who are negligent or abusive towards their 6- to 10-year-old children. 

"The intervention was combined with training and support for the counsellors, to ensure the integrity of its implementation. It has shown to be effective for improving the educational practices of the parents and the behaviour of their children," indicates Dr. Normandeau. Parents learn new behaviours; control their anger better; threaten, shout and hit less. They use more appropriate disciplinary measures, such as discussion and withdrawal of privileges. The express their expectations more clearly and establish more positive relationships with their children that include, among other things, positive reinforcement, demonstrations of affection and rewards.

On the longer term, parent participation in this program helps make it possible for the child to stay with or return to his or her family of origin.