See also, Video Testimonials for more parent, teacher, and group leader reflections!

Good morning everyone,

My name is Gail and I’m Mom to 3 kids, ages 6, 2 and a baba now almost 8 months.

Me, well why did I sign up – well if I’m honest Carolyn and audience it wasn’t because I had heard how wonderful the course was. I didn’t know that then. To be quite frank, It was because I find being a stay-at-home mom lonely and as I had just moved into Drogheda with my family I thought it may be a way to get out of the house and meet other parents.

And this rather selfish, rudimentary objective was more than achieved. A huge thanks, to you my fellow IY graduates for listening, sharing your lives, ideas and solutions. Furthermore, this course proved that if ever “a problem shared is a problem halved” then its never truer than when parenting.

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Secondly, in the early days of re-adjustment with a newborn in the house, I lost my cool one manic bedtime and burst one of the kids’ balloon in anger. And I knew then that I needed to do something different. So I signed up the very next morning, where I met I our Incredible Years organisers Paula & Nicola. I’d like to thank you both for the tremendous efforts throughout the course.

The energy, positivity and desire you both demonstrated was in no small part due to how strongly they believe in this course and its principles. A special call from out to our school liaisons Maire and Annette as I know you invested time and effort behind the scenes coordinating. And to my in-laws Angela & Peter for minding Max every week thereby allowing me attend.

In the days and weeks before starting the course I used to have negative chat in my head that the family would be better off without me. Definitely a sign of my inability to cope and A touch of the baby blues perhaps in there as well. When asked on the first day what my goal for attending was: I said that I wanted to enjoy being a parent.

Now after this incredible course, I no longer run out of the house every evening the second my husband walks in screaming “they’re all yours!“
I now enjoy and love my kids.
Even when they’re awake.
We laugh, we cuddle. In fact when we were introducing the sticker chart to my 6yr old Daughter she requested that I add cuddle time with Mommy to the daily list of activities to be carried out. And she holds me as accountable as I hold her.

Yes we still have testing times but they are less frequent and resolved/ diffused easier and quicker. Best of all I’m better equipped and prepared to be a better parent thanks to the practises advised throughout the course.

I love focusing on the positive, am finding it easier to tune out & ignore the bad behaviour and I’m learning to play. Every day.

I’d like to finish with a saying that my Mom had embroidered as a tapestry when we were young and hung in our house for years. And I never really understood the wisdom of it until this course.
So to finish:
“I hope my children look back on today and see a parent who had time to play. There will be years for cleaning and cooking but children grow up when we’re not looking.”

Thank you.

Special thanks to IY Mentor Jeannie Gordon for providing this testimonial!

My first reaction was not to tell the boys about the ‘special time’ as I was concerned it would be come another ‘to do’ which would not be achievable and then lead to them being upset and me feeling bad and beating myself up about it.

So the first week I didn’t tell them but tried to fit in it myself and realized that it was tough to do …

I have been analyzing why it’s so hard and thinking that it shouldn’t be. 10 minutes with each child is only 20 minutes a day, actually a pitiful short time to spend with one of the people you love most in the world.

The 2nd week I started by offering Bailey 10 minutes of special time the Wednesday after the course. He’d woken up early, come to my bed for a cuddle and then we’d both got up and I started doing ‘jobs’.   As I hung the laundry out I watched him play and when I’d finished I approached him and explained that I was doing this course and that 10 minutes special time is something I’d like to do with them every day.   He picked up and questioned the every day in a vey hopeful and positive way and then decided he’d like me to do Lego with him. We then spent longer than 10 minutes playing with Lego, talking about our creations a bit but mostly being together in companionable silence.   When the time came to an end we both said how much we’d enjoyed it and would like to do it again.

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Walking to school that morning Bailey asked me if I was going to tell Blake about the course. This is the exchange:

Me: yes of course, Blake, you know how mummy is doing a course at the moment,

Blake: no

Me: well, remember you saw my folder in the car with the stickers on it and you asked me what they were for

Blake: oh, yes, well but I didn’t know what the course was for

Me: it’s to help mummy be the best mummy she can be

Blake: that’s a good course then, looking at me and smiling, that’s a GREAT course for you mummy …!

Me: it is. What would you like me to learn on it?

Blake: for you not to shout at me when you’re angry

Me: yes, that would be a great thing to learn, I could work on that … and perhaps you could go on a course to work on not doing some of the naughty things you do which make me angry and then shout?

Blake:   laughing, yes, but that course would have to be in my head

So that week, with all of us knowing about ‘Special Time’ we still only managed to fit it in 3 times.   Looking through the week, it seems I’m not concentrating enough on opportunities to fit it in and am being distracted by ‘jobs’ that need doing to keep daily life going.   On top of this the boys have activities of one kind or another 3 days a week after school, tennis, Beavers and swimming, and Bailey also has Gymnastics 1 day a week.  

During this week, to fit it in we’ve been having special time in the morning or before bedtime.   It often feels hard to fit it in before we do it but whilst we’re doing it and afterwards it felt like it was no time at all.

The boys have chosen a variety of things for special time:

For Bailey Lego is the most popular where we build alongside each other.

Blake likes to play games – board or card games the most.   He also really likes brushing my hair!

Football in the garden – goal scoring.

Being on the trampoline.

Reactions during and immediately after special time:

It’s very invigorating (even when the activity involves sitting down), we feel very connected and there’s often lots of cuddles, kisses when sitting down. When the activity is more physically active we laugh a lot and it’s amazing to see their skills and hear them marvel at mine!   They comment on how nice it is to be doing the activity and Blake has described how special time is ‘even better than X-box because time with mummy, and daddy and Bailey is actually nicer’.   At the end of one 10 minutes, when we were pushing bedtime, Bailey said ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ – he’d just taught me a new card game and I agreed wholeheartedly so we talked about being able to make more time.

What I notice when we’ve had special time:

  • I’m calmer and more balanced – like I’ve remembered to focus on what’s really important and it’s helped shape our future interactions
  • The boys appear happier, we talk a lot and are able to negotiate doing jobs more effectively, like tidying their room up, getting ready for bed or for going out.
  • There’s more praise going both ways
  • They often want to do ‘special time’ together but I’ve had to say we’ll do it separately as it erupts into arguments between them half the time so if we do it it’s bonus special time
  • Blake is usually the one who plays up during bonus special time and we’ve all become more effective at ignoring his behaviour which works – he’s apologizing more and sooner than before – but his tantrums are still bad at times and he physically lashes out at his brother, biting and hitting.
  • Blake appears to feel that ‘we love Bailey more than him’ and frequently verbalizes this view
  • They’re still very competitive with each other on many levels but especially for my time but it seems easier to manage when we have special time alone.

Other challenges to work on:

  • Filling in the special time diary – a good way of creating the habits – doing it electronically would help me.
  • How daddy fits in Special Time – he has so little time at home that we have to work hard at ‘labelling’ his time with the boys special time or they discount time they’ve had with him because it wasn’t positioned as ‘ST’.
  • Regularlising bedtime – more especially going to sleep early enough! The routine is there it’s timing that’s an issue and challenges with dinner time seem to spill over – particularly them saying they’re still hungry…
  • Setting boundaries for expected behaviour
  • Managing their desire to spend time on the screen playing games (we’ve blocked the facility for them to reload games onto the iPad / phone as Blake was sneaking the devices off, reloading the games and playing them without us knowing)
  • Rewarding great / expected behaviour – I had bought them two scooters and hidden them but they found them and wanted them – I said they had to be earned and the course would help me and them work out what that looked like. After a bit of nagging they seem to have accepted this and kept asking me when I was going back to see Anna (the incredible Years group leader)!!

Special Thanks to D&E Counseling for providing this testimonial!

Stacey is a mother of two children; she lives in Youngstown, Ohio.

Recently she participated in the D&E Center’s Incredible Years Parent Training Course, which is a 14-session educational program in the management of children whose behaviors and/or emotional disorders present multiple parenting challenges to their parents.

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Stacey raised herself, she told us, relating how she grew up in a home where her mother suffered from drug addiction, alcoholism and schizophrenia. Stacey said, “It was a very bad bringing up. Child welfare took me and my sisters at 7, but then put us back home after a little while. It was terrible; my mom had no idea how to raise us. I learned nothing from her on how to be a good mother.”

Stacey came to D&E because her son had autism and one of her nephews (who lived with her) was having a lot of problems in school. Stacey, through her children’s therapist, was connected with the Center’s Incredible years leaders, Shirley Ferguson and Gary Baughman, and joined 17 other families in the 14 week course.

“Before I took the course,” she said, “I had no concept of how to deal with my children’s behaviors, their tantrums, their fighting, their yelling at me. It was frustrating and a lot of times it was so stressful I would just cry, but all that has changed since I took the Center’s parenting classes.”

Asked how it has changed, Stacey said, “I have learned how to stay focused on what I have to do to properly respond to their behaviors, what to do if they show aggression, don’t get along with each other, get verbally abusive and try and make me feel bad.”

When asked about the other families in the training group that she got to meet, she said, “It was great, we keep in contact with each other, support each other. Knowing other parents have had to deal with the same problems as me makes me not feel along, like before. I used to feel I was a bad person because me and the kids were always fighting. Now I feel I’m just a parent who, like other parents, have to work hard to stick to the right responses when my kids get difficult to manage.”

When asked what she would like to say to sum up her experiences with the program, she said, “I feel now I have the ability to raise my kids in a way that won’t lead them down the path that some of my nephews and cousins have gone down – school suspensions, drugs, trouble with the law. I would recommend this program to any parent with a young child they are having problems with. Everything they taught me works and I am going to stick with it.”

Tena korua,

I felt that it would be beneficial for you and the programme for me to give a more in depth evaluation. This is something I really wanted to do.


I have three children aged 7, 5 and 1. I am a full time mama and kaitiaki (caregiver) of my whanau and household. My partner works full time and is sometimes stationed in Christchurch for work.

We are very fortunate to have the unconditional love and support of my mother, who attended this course with me. We signed up for the Incredible Years programme as recommended by my son’s (age 5) early childhood educator.

We have had difficulty in dealing with my son’s behaviour since he was two years old and while we have tried many strategies, it felt inadequate in dealing with his behaviour.

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I now know that we lacked the skills and strategies, as well as the understanding, to parent effectively and manage undesirable behaviour. Our life has changed substantially since starting IYs this year, 2013.

I am so happy and grateful for all the learning, readings, tools and relationships that have made this possible.

I am a primary school teacher and although we have strategies for classroom behaviour management, this was not always applicable to parenting.

My mother and I have learnt so much and grown so much in the past few months. It is my opinion that all parents, regardless of their children’s temperament and character, should attend IYs as this would greatly benefit all parents and children and grow a strong community and a strong generation. The children would then have great examples (models) of good/effective parenting that they can imitate as/when they become parents, thus a cycle would be created. The effects would be far reaching. I feel luck that my children have benefited in this way.

Now to the evaluations –

Evaluation of learning:


The folders, readings/handouts were great ways of consolidating the learning of the lesson and followed on well from each class. It was great to read over topics that were really important to me and focus on my goals for each week. The fridge magnets, charts etc were great tools for helping me to remember what I was doing and what I could be doing as the week went by and I was involved in daily family life.


It was awesome to see examples of good and not so good parenting to visualise what it could look like and was a great way to encourage discussions on the topic.

Group activities

I feel that one of the most helpful components of the course was the group discussions. It was awesome to hear of other parents’ situations, ideas etc and I think the main reason I loved it was because I felt that I was not alone and there were other people like me, or even had worse times or weeks than me. The connection with other parents like me, role modelling and ‘acting out’ scenarios all benefited me greatly.


I loved that each lesson was structured, well prepared, timed, vignettes, modelling, discussions, follow up reading and resources all created a great learning environment that fostered development and ‘togetherness’.

Evaluation of teaching:


The group leaders are a couple of awesome, intelligent, professional and beautiful individuals. I felt that they worked really well as a team, supporting each other and facilitating our learning.

They are extremely ‘on to it’ and know what they’re doing. They both were very good at getting people to share, keeping us on track and answering all our questions.

Mum and I love you both very much and wish you well in the future. You are both in our prayers.


I felt that the way the lessons/course was structured utilised the time well and that they catered for all learning styles using a variety of approaches to learning.

Feed forward

Sometimes learning material such as handouts and homework was mixed up. It would perhaps be a good idea to have a folder prepared with all the materials in it as a reference for each lesson.

Although the TV and sound were fine (adequate) it could be better with a bigger TV or screen for those with poor eyesight.

The food was always ready/prepared, delicious and yummy. It was also easy to prepare dinner for the children and not have to worry about feeding ourselves. Kai time was also a great time to interact with other parents and have a ‘brain’ break.

I hope that this is helpful feedback/evaluation and I look forward to catching up with everyone again.

I am so happy in my life, my children are thriving and everything’s all good.

Aroha tino nui