Tuning in to kids: a promising parenting programme for parents of preschoolers

mother talking with her son

A recent randomised controlled trial from Melbourne Australia has highlighted the effectiveness of a prevention and early intervention parenting programme, which aims to “improve emotion socialization practices in parents of preschool children”.

Tuning in to Kids is a 6-session group parenting program that helps children learn to understand and regulate their emotions.

It teaches parents:

  • awareness and regulation of their own emotions
  • awareness of their children’s emotions
  • to use children’s emotional experiences as an opportunity for closeness and teaching
  • skills in assisting children to verbally label and manage their emotions
  • skills in assisting children in problem solving
  • to guide children’s behaviour with appropriate limits

The research evaluation of Tuning in to Kids found that when parents learned these parenting skills, this was related to improvements in children’s emotional competence, social skills and behaviour. For children with behaviour or anxiety problems, the program was particularly effective.

The ideas and techniques taught in the program are useful for parents of children of all ages, but are particularly relevant for parents of preschoolers.


  • Havighurst SS, Wilson KR, Harley AE, Prior MR, Kehoe C. Tuning in to Kids: improving emotion socialization practices in parents of preschool children–findings from a community trial. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2010 Dec;51(12):1342-50. [PubMed abstract]
  • Tuning in to kids – research listing
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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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