Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 247–264 | Cite as

“Tuning into Kids”: Reducing Young Children’s Behavior Problems Using an Emotion Coaching Parenting Program

  • Sophie S. HavighurstEmail author
  • Katherine R. Wilson
  • Ann E. Harley
  • Christiane Kehoe
  • Daryl Efron
  • Margot R. Prior
Original Article


This study evaluated a 6-session group parenting program, Tuning into Kids (TIK), as treatment for young children (aged 4.0–5.11 years) with behavior problems. TIK targets parent emotion socialization (parent emotion awareness, regulation and emotion coaching skills). Fifty-four parents, recruited via a child behavior clinic, were randomized into intervention (TIK) or waitlist (clinical treatment as usual). Parents reported emotion awareness/regulation, emotion coaching, empathy and child behavior (pre-intervention, post-intervention, 6-month follow-up); teachers reported child behavior and observers rated parent–child emotion coaching and child emotion knowledge (pre-intervention, follow-up). Data were analyzed using growth curve modeling and ANCOVA. Parents in both conditions reported less emotional dismissiveness and reduced child behavior problems; in the intervention group, parents also reported greater empathy and had improved observed emotion coaching skills; their children had greater emotion knowledge and reduced teacher-reported behavior problems. TIK appears to be a promising addition to treatment for child behavior problems.


Emotion socialization Emotion coaching Emotional competence Child behavior problems Parent training 



This study has been a partnership between The University of Melbourne, ParentsLink at MacKillop Family Services and the Centre for Community Child Health at the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital. We thank the staff from ParentsLink for assisting in intervention delivery and staff at the Centre for Community Child Health, especially Wendy Foster and Renee Jean for their assistance in recruitment. We also thank Rebecca Banks, Galit Hasen, Emily Incledon and Peter Elliott. We thank the organizations who funded this study, including Australian Rotary Health Research Fund, the William Buckland Foundation, and the Financial Markets Foundation for Children. We also extend our thanks to all the parents and children who participated in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophie S. Havighurst
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katherine R. Wilson
    • 1
  • Ann E. Harley
    • 1
  • Christiane Kehoe
    • 1
  • Daryl Efron
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Margot R. Prior
    • 5
  1. 1.Mindful: Centre for Training and Research in Developmental Health, University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Centre for Community Child HealthMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Murdoch Children’s Research InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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