Research Evidence

We have undertaken a number of studies to evaluate the evidence for the Tuning in to Kids (TIK) program. Evaluations of Tuning in to Teens, Tuning in to Toddlers, and Dads Tuning in to Kids have been conducted – with larger randomised controlled studies of these three programs currently underway. We have conducted evaluations of the program with parents of anxious children and parents of children with chronic illness using a one to one delivery. A pilot study of TIK delivered in groups for parents/carers of children who have experienced complex trauma has also been conducted through the Australian Childhood Foundation. Details of all of these studies can be found below.

Tuning in to Kids (TIK)

Efficacy Trial – Tuning in to Kids™ – Preschool Community Sample

A randomised controlled study of the Tuning in to Kids™ (TIK) program was carried out with parents of preschoolers attending kindergartens. 216 families participated in the study, with over half of the sample reporting their child had behaviour or anxiety problems in the clinical range. Parents who received the TIK program improved in their ability to respond to children’s emotions in supportive and teaching ways. They were also much less likely to be dismissive or critical when their children were emotional. Furthermore, children of parents participating in the program experienced significant reductions in behaviour problems. These outcomes were found on parent report, teacher report, observed parenting and direct assessment of the child. Ninety-two percent of parents completed the program, suggesting a high level of engagement.

This study was funded by Australian Rotary Health, the William Buckland Foundation and Financial Markets Foundation for Children.

Outcomes of this study are reported in the following papers:

  • 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., 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.

Effectiveness Trial – Tuning in to Kids™ – Preschool Community Sample

A randomised controlled study of TIK with community practitioners delivering the program (a real world trial or effectiveness trial) was conducted in 2009. 128 parents of a preschool child participated, with outcomes reported by parents and preschool teachers. In this study, parents participating in the program became significantly more encouraging of children’s emotional expression and less emotionally dismissive, minimising and punitive in their reactions to children’s negative emotions. Other improvements in parenting practices were increases in positive involvement and consistent discipline.

This study was funded by the Financial Markets Foundation for Children.

Outcomes of this study are reported in the following paper:

  • 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.

Efficacy Trial – Tuning in to Kids™ – Preschool children with clinical-level behaviour problems

A randomised controlled study of TIK with children presenting with behaviour problems to the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital was conducted. Parents of these children were randomised to either TIK intervention or treatment as usual (Paediatric care), and those in the TIK intervention participated in the group parenting program. While there were improvements for participants in both conditions, parents in the TIK condition reported more emotion coaching, greater empathy and less emotion dismissing of their child’s emotions. They were observed to use more emotion exploration and their children had significantly better emotion knowledge after the intervention. Parents in both conditions reported significantly improved child behaviour, with  a trend for significantly greater improvements reported by TIK parents. Teachers reported significant improvements in children’s behaviour for participants in the TIK condition only.

This study was funded by Australian Rotary Health and the William Buckland Foundation.

Outcomes of this study are reported in the following paper:

  • 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.

Tuning in to Kids™ – early intervention – parents of early primary school aged children with behaviour problems

TIK has been used in an early intervention trial (the CASEA program – CAMHS and Schools Early Action) in a partnership between the TIK research team at the University of Melbourne and Austin and Bendigo CAMHS. TIK makes up part of an early intervention package which includes 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 and a tertiary referral service (for those families who require more intensive intervention post group programs). The interventions were delivered by clinicians from the CASEA teams. Outcomes are compared with a wait list control group.

Funding for the research was provided by Australian Rotary Health.

This study was also part of a PhD project (now complete) by Dr Melissa Duncombe, who compared TIK with Triple P.

Outcomes of this study are reported in the following papers:

  • Duncombe, M. E., Havighurst, S. S., Kehoe, C.E., Holland, K. A., Frankling, E. J., & Stargatt, R. (In press). A randomized controlled comparison of an emotion- and behavior-focused group parenting program for children at risk for conduct disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychology.
  • Havighurst, S.S., Duncombe, M., Frankling, E., Holland, K., Kehoe, C., & Stargatt, R. (Online). An Emotion-Focused Early Intervention for Children with Emerging Conduct Problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

     

Tuning in to Teens (TINT)

Efficacy Trial Tuning in to Teens™ – Parents of Secondary School students – underway

A randomised controlled study of a modified version of TIK – Tuning in to Teens (TINT) for parents of year 7/8 children is currently in progress. The study will recruit 290 parents from a number of secondary schools in the Melbourne metropolitan area during 2014-2016. Parents from selected schools will be able to participate in a free six week TINT parenting group program either in 2014, 2015 or 2016. Results of this study will be available in 2017.

If you are a parent who would like to take part in this trial, please contact Christiane Kehoe ckehoe@unimelb.edu.au to find out if your school is participating.

This study is funded by Australian Rotary Health.

Efficacy Trial Tuning in to Teens™ – Parents of Grade Six children – complete

A randomised controlled study of TINT has been conducted with 225 parents and their Grade 6 child. Schools were randomised into intervention or control conditions. Parents in the intervention condition completed a 6-session parenting program. Intervention parents reported significant reductions in their own anxiety/depressive symptoms and improved emotional competence when compared to control families who reported no changes. Parents and their children reported improvements in parenting and reductions in family conflict. Significant reductions in the young person’s anxiety, depressive symptoms, somatic complaints and behaviour problems were also reported.

Christiane Kehoe, PhD student, specifically examined the impact of the program on youth internalizing difficulties (anxiety, depression and somatic complaints). Ann Harley looked at qualitative outcomes of the program for her M.A. thesis and found that post-program parents described changes in their beliefs about emotions as well as how they responded when their children were emotional.

Outcomes of this study are reported in the following papers:

  • Havighurst, S.S., Kehoe, C.E. & Harley, A.E. (under review). Tuning in to Teens: Improving parental responses to anger and reducing youth externalizing behaviour problems.
  • Kehoe, C. E., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (Online). Somatic complaints in early adolescence: The role of parents’ emotion socialisation. Journal of Early Adolescence.
  • 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.

Dads Tuning in to Kids (Dads TIK)

Efficacy Trial – Dads Tuning in to Kids™ – underway

The Dads Tuning in to Kids (DadsTIK) program for fathers has content similar to the original program; however, some activities and all language and images have been modified to be father specific. DadsTIK has been designed as an 8-session format (7 initial weekly sessions + 1 booster session approximately 8 weeks later), and includes additional content about the benefits to children of positive father involvement in parenting and the importance of play.

The program is currently being evaluated in a randomised controlled trial with 150 fathers. This trial includes pre-, post- and 6-month follow-up questionnaire measures for fathers, with child social-emotional outcomes additionally reported on by mothers and preschool teachers. For further information please contact Dr Katherine Wilson (wilk@unimelb.edu.au).

Pilot Trial – Dads Tuning in to Kids™ – complete

A pilot study evaluation of DadsTIK has been completed with 57 fathers of preschool children across two regional and two Melbourne metro sites (2014, Wilson, Havighurst, & Harley.) Almost all participants (96%) completed the program; and their post-program evaluations of program content and format indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the program, with fathers saying they would “recommend” or “strongly recommend” DadsTIK to other fathers.

One recurrent theme in fathers’ feedback was the novelty and value of being in a supportive group situation to talk about their children and parenting issues with other fathers – a new experience for the majority of participants. Fathers also reported significant and large improvements in parenting confidence, emotion socialisation beliefs and practices, and general parenting practices.

Outcomes of the pilot study are reported in the following paper:

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.

 

Tuning in to Toddlers (TOTS)

Efficacy Trial – Tuning in to Toddlers™ – underway

Tuning in to Toddlers™ (TOTS) is a modified version of the TIK program that integrates a greater focus on the attachment relationship, addresses early child development, and promotes non-verbal communication for responding to toddler’s emotions.

A randomised controlled trial of TOTS is currently underway, with Faye Evans, PhD student, working on the project.

Pilot Trial – Tuning in to Toddlers™ – complete

TOTS has been evaluated in a pilot study (as part of Michelle Lauw’s Masters in Clinical Psychology thesis) with an intervention-only sample of parents of typically developing

toddlers attended a 6-session group program. At pre-program and post-program, parents’ emotion-coaching and emotion-dismissing behaviours were assessed using self-report questionnaires and observation measures. Results showed significant increases in self-reported and observed emotion coaching behaviours and use of emotion talk after intervention. There was

also a significant decrease in self-reported and observed emotion dismissing behaviours, and toddler externalizing behaviour problems. Overall, findings provide preliminary support for TOTS and suggest its potential as a valuable intervention for supporting parents in their efforts to emotion coach their toddlers.

Outcomes of the pilot study are reported in the following paper:

  • 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.

 

Trauma-focused Tuning in to Kids

Pilot Trial – Trauma-focused Tuning in to Kids™ – complete

This study evaluated Trauma-focused Tuning in to Kids (TF-TIK) delivered in a clinical setting with 77 parents/caregivers of children (3 – 15 years) who had experienced complex trauma. The 10-session version of the TIK program targets parent emotion socialisation to improve children’s psychological functioning and integrates material on attachment and trauma. The study utilised a single-group design with pre- and post-intervention parent report measures for: emotion socialisation; parent-child relationship; parent mental health; and children’s emotional and behavioural functioning. Significant improvements were found in all areas of parent and child functioning. This study provides initial support for the program.

Other TIK research trials

Other versions of the Tuning in to Kids program are currently being evaluated. These include:

TIK with parents of anxious children

• Galit Hasen’s PhD research

TIK with parents of children with a chronic illness

• Wai Wai Yang’s PhD research

List of Research Publications

•    Duncombe, M. E., Havighurst, S. S., Holland, K. A., Frankling, E. J., Kehoe, C., & Stargatt, R. (In press). A randomized controlled comparison of an emotion- and behavior-focused group parenting program for children at risk for conduct disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychology.

•    Havighurst, S. S., Kehoe, C. E., & Harley, A. E. (Under review). Tuning in to Teens: Improving Parental Responses to Anger and Reducing Youth Externalizing Behavior Problems. Development and Psychopathology.

•    Havighurst, S.S., Duncombe, M., Frankling, E., Holland, K., Kehoe, C., & Stargatt, R. (In press). An Emotion-Focused Early Intervention for Children with Emerging Conduct Problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

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

•    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.

•    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.

•    Kehoe, C. E., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (Early view). Somatic complaints in early adolescence: The role of parents’ emotion socialisation. Journal of Early Adolescence.  

•    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.

•    Murphy, J. L., Havighurst, S. S., & Kehoe, C. E. (under review). Trauma-focused “Tuning in to Kids”: A pilot study. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

•    Wilson, K., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (in press). Dads Tuning in to Kids: Piloting a new parenting program targeting fathers’ emotion coaching skills. Journal of Community Psychology.

•    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.

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