Parenting Programs

Tuning in to Kids® program information

Evidence-based, emotion-focused parenting programs since 1999. Developed by Professor Sophie Havighurst and Ann Harley.

About Tuning in to Toddlers

Tuning in to Toddlers™ (TOTS) is a further adaptation of the original Tuning in to Kids® (TIK) parenting program developed by Professor Sophie Havighurst, Ann Harley and Dr Christiane Kehoe for parents of children aged 12-36 months of age.

The Tuning in to Toddlers™ program teaches parents skills in emotion coaching but with greater emphasis on non-verbal ways of responding to emotions and a focus on responding to the attachment and exploration needs of younger children.

A pilot study and subsequent randomised control trial, completed in 2018, showed the program improves parents’ emotion coaching, improves children’s emotional functioning and also reduces the stress cortisol levels of toddlers (measured using hair samples at 15 months follow up).

On the basis of these findings, resources for a new Tuning in to Toddlers™ professional training workshop will be developed for anticipated release in 2022. Parent and carers will be able to attend Tuning in to Toddlers™ parenting programs from 2023.

About Tuning in to Kids

Tuning in to Kids® (TIK) was the first of our parenting programs. It teaches parents and carers skills in emotion coaching, a way of responding to emotions that can help children to understand, regulate and work through their emotions so that they manage their behaviour and respond in socially appropriate ways. In particular, the program teaches parents to notice children’s emotions, especially before emotions have become overwhelming for the child.

Parents and carers are encouraged to accept, validate and empathise with their child’s emotions, help reflect upon or name the emotions being experienced, and if necessary, assist the child to work through the emotion and problem solve.

When parents and carers respond to children’s emotions in ways that validate and accept emotions but still guide them with appropriate behaviour, children learn important skills in emotional intelligence. Over time children use these skills in all aspects of their lives. Emotional intelligence helps children to be more resilient so that when they face challenging experiences they can talk about their feelings and work through these experiences.

Emotional intelligence helps prevent mental health problems, and learning these skills can reduce mental health difficulties if they are occurring.

Tuning in to Kids® also teaches parents and carers skills in being aware of how they express their own emotions when parenting. Parenting (and life) can be an emotionally challenging experience at times, and many parents benefit from reflecting on the ways they cope and manage their emotions. Children watch and copy how the people who raise them express emotions and so it is an important part of what benefits children. By learning to use emotion coaching skills, many parents and carers find their children talk to them more, want greater contact with them, and share more of their emotional experiences with them.

There are a number of different randomised controlled trials and pilot studies of Tuning in to Kids® conducted by our team as well as researchers in different countries around the world.

About Tuning in to Teens

Tuning in to Teens™ (TINT) is an evidence-based adaptation of the Tuning in to Kids® (TIK) parenting program, developed by Professor Sophie Havighurst, Ann Harley and Dr Christiane Kehoe. Originally published in 2012, a second edition of the program was published in 2019.

The Tuning in to Teens™ program has a similar core focus on teaching parents and carers emotion coaching skills, but in this case the program differs from Tuning in to Kids® in focusing specifically on the developmental needs of teenagers. It integrates a greater focus on acceptance/empathy and helping parents and carers to manage their own responses when adolescents reject or push them away as the young person seeks greater autonomy.

Tuning in to Teens™ has had two randomised control trials demonstrating its impact in improving parenting, parent-teen relationships and adolescent mental health.

About Dads Tuning in to Kids

Dads Tuning in to Kids™ (DTIK) is a further evidence-based adaptation of the original Tuning in to Kids® (TIK) parenting program. It was developed by Dr Katherine Wilson, Professor Sophie Havighurst and Ann Harley. it is suitable for use by Tuning in to Kids® trained facilitators who would like to offer father-only parenting groups.

The program focuses on the father-child emotional connection. It teaches fathers the skills in emotion coaching that are taught in Tuning in to Kids®, but provides additional content particularly relevant to fathers, and suggests modifications to some program activities and processes.

Dads Tuning in to Kids™ has been strongly endorsed by fathers who have attended, with feedback that a fathers-only option is a very welcome addition to the parenting programs currently on offer. A randomised control trial of the program showed positive outcomes including improving parenting, parent-child relationships and child behaviour as well as improvements in father’s partner’s emotional wellbeing and parenting.

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