Tuning in to Kids® (TIK) was the first of our parenting programs. It teaches parents and carers skills in emotion coaching. Emotion coaching as defined by John Gottman is 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.
TIK teaches parents and carers skills in being aware of how they express their own emotions when parenting. Parenting (and life) can be emotionally challenging 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. See our research for further information.
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 TINT program has a similar core focus on teaching parents and carers emotion coaching skills, but in this case for use with young people aged 10-18 years. The program differs from TIK in focusing specifically on the developmental needs of teenagers, integrating 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.
Dads Tuning in to Kids™ (DADS) 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 as an “add-on” program, 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 fathers’ partners’ emotional wellbeing and parenting.
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 TOTS 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 and 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 TOTS professional training workshop will be developed for anticipated release mid 2024.
Whole School Approach
The Whole School Approach (WSA) is a further adaptation of the original Tuning in to Teens™ (TINT) parenting program being led by Dr Christiane Kehoe. It includes professional training of teachers while also offering a brief seminar series to parents and carers as well as a student program.
A randomised control trial of the program was completed in 2022. Professional training will be offered in the program in 2024.
Tuning in to Kids® for Kindergartens/Childcare
A version of Tuning in to Kids® for kindergarten teachers and childcare workers is currently being developed by Professor Sophie Havighurst and the Tuning in to Kids® team with a focus on helping teachers learn verbal and non-verbal ways of using emotion coaching with young children. This version of the program integrates material from the new Tuning in to Toddlers™. The program involves training kindergarten leaders/resource people as supervisors, teachers/childcare workers participate in a one-day workshop, and then teachers/childcare workers receive weekly supervision in applying emotion coaching in their interactions with children.
This version of the program is being evaluated in a randomised controlled trial with 50 kindergartens in Norway during 2019-2021 at the University of Oslo.