Our philosophy and research

Research has shown that there are a number of central skills that assist people to respond to emotions in themselves and others that are associated with better life outcomes. Often called emotional competence in the child development literature, or emotional intelligence in education, management or popular literature, these skills consist of:

  • understanding one’s own emotions and being able to communicate with others about how one feels
  • understanding other people’s emotions and being able to identify and interact with others when one or both parties are emotional
  • regulating one’s own emotions (including reducing, maintaining or intensifying emotions) in a culturally and situationally appropriate way, and
  • the ability to use emotion in one’s life to achieve one’s goals.

Our Philosophy

Our goal in the Tuning in to Kids® programs is to teach parents and children to express emotions in healthy ways.

We believe that human emotions are central to communication and connection. It is not until we communicate at the level of emotions that we feel close connection. All emotions serve a function and provide us with important information about ourselves and our environment.  Emotional connection is central and important to our well-being and optimises life outcomes.

We view children’s ‘challenging behaviours’ as a sign that they are struggling with understanding and regulating emotions and that they may need our help. When we connect to children’s emotions using empathy/responding in a way that allows them to feel understood – it is calming (sometimes referred to as co-regulation), and this allows children to learn skills in emotional competence.

Behaviour problems are often reduced or stop when emotional acceptance and understanding occurs – this is what our studies have shown. 

We build on the strengths that parents already have.

We recognise that every family is unique and that parents/carers know their children best. We encourage them to use the ideas from the Tuning in to Kids® programs that work for them and their family.


We have undertaken a number of randomised controlled trials to establish the evidence for the Tuning in to Kids® (TIK) program as well as the other variants of the program: Tuning in to Teens (TINT), Dads Tuning in to Kids (DADS), Tuning in to Toddlers (TOTS). These programs have been evaluated in both community and clinical settings.

Efficacy and effectiveness

In community settings the TIK program has been evaluated in efficacy and effectiveness trials with parents of preschool children.

A randomised controlled trial of TIK was carried out with a community sample of 216 parents of pre-schoolers using parent-report on questionnaires and observation measures and showed greater improvements in parents’ ability to respond supportively and less critically to their children’s emotions if parents took part in TIK.

Parents participating in TIK also reported significantly greater reductions in behaviour problems in their children compared to controls.

A real world trial of the program, where TIK was delivered by community practitioners, replicated these findings. The findings were also replicated in a randomised controlled trial with 150 fathers of preschool children.

Fathers who took part in the father-specific seven-session version of DADS reported significantly greater increases in empathy and emotion coaching, had greater parenting satisfaction and efficacy, and reported reductions in their children’s difficult behaviours when compared with wait-list control fathers.

Their non-participating partners also reported reduced emotion dismissing and less psychological distress.

Trials in clinical settings

Trials of TIK have also been conducted in clinical settings with children with behavioural problems.

A randomised controlled trial with 56 children presenting with behaviour problems to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, compared six weekly group sessions of the TIK program with standard paediatric care.

While there were improvements for participants in both conditions, parents in the TIK condition were observed to use, and reported using, more emotion coaching, greater empathy and less emotion dismissing of their children’s emotions.

Parents in both conditions reported significantly improved child behaviour, however teachers reported significant improvements in children’s behaviour only for those in the TIK condition.

Improved children’s behaviour

TIK has also been used in a randomised controlled effectiveness trial for primary school aged children with emerging conduct problems, delivered by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service clinicians/education staff.

The trial randomised 300 families into either control or one of two intervention conditions that included screening for behaviour problems, universal prevention (the PATHS program or professional development for teachers about behaviour problems), a child social-emotional program, a parenting program (either a behavioural parenting program – TripleP or TIK) and a tertiary referral service (for those who require more intervention post group programs).

Findings from this study showed that both intervention conditions (TripleP and TIK) significantly and equally improved children’s behaviour problems compared to control families, who did not improve. Further, those in the TIK condition made greater change than those in TripleP if the parent also had their own psychological difficulties.

Other TIK programs, such as Tuning in to Teens™ and Tuning in to Toddlers™, and Dads Tuning in to Kids® have also been evaluated in randomised controlled trials with results showing improvements in emotion socialisation and reductions in child internalising and externalising problems for families who took part in the program.

Please see research publications below for further detail on the evidence-base.

Please see research publications below for further detail on the evidence-base.

Research Publications

Ambrosi, C.C., Kavanagh, P.S., Evans, S., & Havighurst, S.S. (under review). A Pilot Study of an Adapted Coparenting Program: Tuning in to Kids Together.

Havighurst, S.S., Edvoll, M., Tidemann, I., Bølstad, E., Holme, H., Hansen, M.B., Eikseth, H.C., & Nygaard, E. (under review). A randomized controlled trial of an emotion socialization intervention with kindergarten teachers.

Havighurst, S.S., Choy, R., Ulker, A., Otterpohl, N., Meybodi, F.A., Edrissi, F., Qiu, C., Shum, K.K., Radovini, A., Hosn, D.A., & Kehoe, C.E. (under review). A preliminary evaluation of the cultural appropriateness of the Tuning in to Kids parenting program in Turkey, Germany, Iran and China.

Ambrosi, C.C., Kavanagh, P.S., & Havighurst, S.S. (2022). Ambrosi, C.C., Kavanagh, P.S., & Havighurst, S.S. (2022). The Development of an Adapted Coparenting Program: Tuning in to Kids Together. International Journal of Systemic Therapy. DOI: 10.1080/2692398X.2021.2010464

Bjork, R.F., Havighurst, S.S., Pons, F., & Karevold, E. B. (2022). Testing TIK (Tuning in to Kids) with TEC (Test of Emotion Comprehension): An investigation of emotion socialization theory in Norwegian kindergarten children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 28.

Havighurst, S.S., Kehoe, C.E. & Harley, A.E., & Thomas, R. (2022). A randomized controlled trial of an emotion socialization parenting program and its impact on parenting, children’s behavior and parent and child stress cortisol: Tuning in to Toddlers. Behavior Research and Therapy, 149, 104016. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2021.104016

Bølstad, E., Havighurst, S. S., Tamnes, C. K., Nygaard, E., Bjørk, R. F., Stavrinou, M., & Espeseth, T. (2021). A Pilot Study of a Parent Emotion Socialization Intervention: Impact on Parent Behavior, Child Self-Regulation, and Adjustment. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 730278. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.730278

Havighurst, S.S. & Kehoe, C.E. (2021). Tuning in to Kids: An emotion coaching approach to working with parents. In Allen, J.L., Hawes, D.J. & Essau, C.A. (Ed.s), Family-based Intervention for Child and Adolescent Mental Health: A Core Competencies Approach. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Havighurst, S. S., Murphy, J. L. & Kehoe, C. E. (2021). Trauma-Focused Tuning in to Kids: Evaluation in a Clinical Service. Children, 8 (11). https://doi.org/10.3390/children8111038.

Mastromanno, B. K., Kehoe, C. E., Wood, C. E., & Havighurst, S. S. (2021). A randomised-controlled pilot study of the one-to-one delivery of Tuning in to Kids: impact on emotion socialisation, reflective functioning, and childhood behaviour problems. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 26:4, 359-374, DOI: 10.1080/13632752.2021.1984208

Mastromanno, B. K., Kehoe, C. E., Wood, C. E., & Havighurst, S. S. (2021). Tuning in to Kids: Clinical Case Studies from One-to-One Delivery. Clinical Case Studies, 20(4), 267–282. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534650120983909

Ocasio, K., Rolock, N., Greenfield, B., Gallese, R., Webb, J., Havighurst, S., Fong, R., & MacKenzie, M. J. (2021). Implementation Fidelity in the Replication of Tuning in to Teens (TINT) Adapted for Adoptive Parents and Guardians in the US. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, pp. 1-16. doi:10.1080/26408066.2021.1924912

Rolock, N., Ocasio, K., White, K., Havighurst, S.S., Cho, Y., Fong, R., Marra, L., Faulkner, M. (2021). Testing Tuning in to Teens (TINT) with adoptive parents and guardians in the US: The replication phase of intervention research Journal of Public Child Welfare. 15, 1, 22-51. DOI: 10.1080/15548732.2020.1846660

Havighurst, S.S., Radovini, A., Hao, B. & Kehoe, C.E. (2020). Emotion-focused parenting interventions for prevention and treatment of child and adolescent mental health problems: A review of recent research. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 33, 6, 586–601. https://doi.org/10.1097/YCO.0000000000000647

Kehoe, C.E., Havighurst, S.S., & Harley, A.E. (2020). Tuning in to Teens: Investigating moderators of program effects and mechanisms of change in an emotion focused group parenting program. Special Issue on Parental Socialization of Emotion and Self-Regulation: Understanding Processes and Application. Developmental Psychologist, 56, 623-637. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000875

Otterpohl, N., Buchenau, K., Havighurst, S.S., Stiensmeier-Pelster, J., & Kehoe, C.E. (2020). Tuning in to Kids: Ein Elterntraining zur Förderung der Emotionssozialisation im Vorschulalter. Kindheit und Entwicklung, 29, 52-60. Doi 10.1026/0942-5403/a000300.

Meybodi, F.A., Mohammadkhani, P., Pourshahbaz, A., Dolatshahi, B., & Havighurst, S.S. (2019). Improving Parent Emotion Socialization Practices: Piloting Tuning in to Kids in Iran. Family Relations, 68, 596-607. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12387

Edrissi, F., Havighurst, S.S., Aghebati, A. Habibi, M., & Arani, A.M. (2019). A pilot study of the Tuning in to Kids parenting program in Iran for reducing preschool children’s anxiety. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28, 1695-1702. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02303.x

Havighurst, S.S., Kehoe, C.E. & Harley, A.E., Allen, N., & Thomas, R. (2019). Tuning in to Toddlers: Research protocol and recruitment for evaluation of an emotion socialization program for parents of toddlers. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1054.

Havighurst, S.S., Wilson, K.R., Harley, A.E. & Kehoe, C.E. (2019). Dads Tuning in to Kids: A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Emotion Socialization Parenting Program for Fathers. Social Development, 28, 979-997. https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12375

Kehoe, C.E. & Havighurst, S.S. (2018). Treating emotion dysregulation in internalizing disorders. In Crowell, S.E. & Beauchaine, T.P (Ed.s), Oxford Handbook of Emotion Dysregulation. Oxford University Press: New York.

Meybodi, F.A., Mohammadkhani, P., Pourshahbaz, A., Dolatshahi, B., & Havighurst, S.S. (2017). Reducing Children’s Behavior Problems: A Pilot Study of Tuning in to Kids in Iran. Iranian Rehabilitation Journal, 15, 3, 1-7.

Havighurst, S.S. & Kehoe, C.E. (2017). The role of parental emotion regulation in parent emotion socialization: Implications for intervention. In Deater-Deckard, K. & Panneton, R.K. (Ed.s), Parenting Stress: Adaptive and Maladaptive Consequences for Developmental Well-Being of Children. Springer: New York.

Wilson, K.R., Havighurst, S. S., Kehoe, C. E., & Harley, A. E. (2016). Dads Tuning in to Kids: Preliminary Evaluation of a new parenting program for fathers, Journal of Family Relations, 65, 4, 535-549.

Duncombe, M. E., Havighurst, S. S., Kehoe, C. E., Holland, K. A., Frankling, E. J., & Stargatt, R. (2016). Comparing an Emotion-and a Behavior-Focused Parenting Program as Part of a Multsystemic Intervention for Child Conduct Problems. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45(3), 320-334.

Havighurst, S. S., Kehoe, C. E., Harley, A. E., & Wilson, K. R. (2015). Tuning in to Kids: An emotion focused parenting intervention for children with disruptive behaviour problems. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 41-50.

Havighurst, S. S., Duncombe, M. E., Frankling, E. J., Holland, K. A., Kehoe, C. E., & Stargatt, R. (2015). An emotion-focused early intervention for children with emerging conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(4), 749-760.

Havighurst, S. S., Kehoe, C. E., & Harley, A. E. (2015). Tuning in to Teens: Improving parental responses to anger and reducing youth externalizing behavior problems. Journal of Adolescence, 42, 148-158.

Kehoe, C. E., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (2015). Somatic complaints in early adolescence: The role of parents’ emotion socialization. Journal of Early Adolescence, 35(7), 966-989.

Kehoe, C. E., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (2014). Tuning in to Teens: Improving parent emotion socialization to reduce youth internalizing difficulties. Social Development, 23(2), 413-431.

Lauw, M. S. M., Havighurst, S. S., Wilson, K., Harley, A. E., & Northam, E. A. (2014). Improving parenting of toddlers’ emotions using an emotion coaching parenting program: A pilot study of tuning in to toddlers. Journal of Community Psychology, 42, 2, 169-175.

Wilson, K. R., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (2014). Dads Tuning in to Kids: Piloting a new parenting program targeting fathers’ emotion coaching skills. Journal of Community Psychology, 42(2), 162-168.

Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (2013). Tuning in to Kids: Emotion coaching for early learning staff. Belonging: Early Years Journal, 2(1), 22-25.

Havighurst, S. S., Wilson, K. R., Harley, A. E., Kehoe, C., Efron, D., & Prior, M. R. (2013). “Tuning into Kids”: Reducing young children’s behavior problems using an emotion coaching parenting program. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 44(2), 247-264.

Wilson, K. R., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (2012). Tuning in to Kids: An effectiveness trial of a parenting program targeting emotion socialization of preschoolers. Journal of Family Psychology, 26(1), 56-65.

Havighurst, S. S., Wilson, K. R., Harley, A. E., Prior, M. R., & Kehoe, C. (2010). Tuning in to Kids: Improving emotion socialization practices in parents of preschool children – findings from a community trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(12), 1342-1350.

Havighurst, S. S., Wilson, K. R., Harley, A. E., & Prior, M. R. (2009). Tuning in to kids: An emotion-focused parenting program – initial findings from a community trial. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(8), 1008-1023.

Havighurst, S. S., Harley, A., & Prior, M. (2004). Building preschool children’s emotional competence: A parenting program. Early Education and Development, 15(4), 423-448.

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