Mindful Research

Tuning in to Kids Research

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Research on Tuning in to Kids

A number of studies have been undertaken to evaluate the evidence for the Tuning in to Kids program. Some of these are already complete and have been published while other studies are still underway.

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 Tuning in to Kids 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.

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.

Wilson, K. R., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (in preparation). Tuning in to Kids: Parents’ evaluation of an emotion-focused parenting program.

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.

Wilson, K. R., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (under review). Tuning in to Kids: A community trial of a parenting program targeting emotion socialization of preschoolers.

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 with their children and their children had significantly better emotion knowledge after the intervention. There was a trend for significantly improved behaviour as reported by parents and a significant improvement in behaviour reported by teachers for those in the TIK condition.

Havighurst, S. S., Wilson, K, R., Kehoe, C., Efron, D. & Prior, M, R. (in preparation). 'Tuning in to Kids': Improving emotion socialization practices in partents of preschool children with behaviour problems - findings from a clinical trial.

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

A randomised controlled study of a modified version of the TIK program, called Tuning in to Teens (TinT), is currently nearing completion. 229 parents and their Grade 6 child participated in the trial. The study is now in the data analysis and writing phase. Outcome journal papers will be completed in late 2011 and 2012, and a TinT manual and training package will be available in late 2011/early 2012. Christiane Kehoe, PhD Student, is looking at the impact of this program on internalizing difficulties with pre-adolescents, and Ann Harley is looking at qualitative outcomes of the program for her M.A. thesis.

Pilot Trial – Dads Tuning in to Kids.

The research team has now also developed a version of the TIK program specifically modified to target fathers, called Dads Tuning in to Kids (DadsTIK). To establish program acceptability for fathers and to conduct preliminary investigation into its efficacy, a pilot study of DadsTIK was conducted with 30 fathers of preschool children. Program retention was excellent and feedback about the program was positive. Statistical tests showed significant increases in emotion coaching , expressive encouragement and problem-focused reactions to children’s negative emotions, and decreases in fathers’ emotion dismissing, minimizing and punitive reactions . Fathers also reported a significant increase in their perceived parenting efficacy.

Wilson, K. R., Havighurst, S. S., & Harley, A. E. (under review). Dads Tuning in to Kids: Developing and piloting a “father-friendly” parenting program.

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

Tuning in to Kids is being used in an early intervention trial of the CASEA program (CAMHS and Schools Early Action) in a partnership between the Tuning in to Kids 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 are delivered by clinicians from the CASEA teams. Outcomes are compared with a wait list control group. Melissa Duncombe, PhD student, is conducting a comparison study of two different parenting programs used in CASEA, TIK and Triple P.

One paper on the screening tool used to identify children at risk is under review in Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. This is part of Melissa Duncombe’s PhD research.

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;
  • TIK with parents of children who have experienced significant abuse or neglect – this study is a partnership project with the Australian Childhood Foundation and Dr Jessica Murphy
  • A pilot study of Tuning in to Toddlers (ToTs) is being carried out in 2011 as a partnership between Mindful, University of Melbourne and ParentsLink at MacKillop Family Services. Michelle Lauw is a Masters Clinical Psychology student contributing to research on this project.