|Turning in to Kids: Improving emotion socialization practices in parents of preschool children||| Print ||
|What Children Need to Grow and Thrive|
A community-based program helped parents understand their own emotions and to coach their children in these skills. The parents and children both learned better emotional control and empathy towards others.
The Issue: To develop into competent healthy adults children need more than the ability to learn. They need to understand, deal with, and be in control of their emotions. These skills help them to understand other people’s behaviour and respond with thought and empathy, instead of reacting with anger or fear. Parents help their children in these developmental tasks by socializing emotional expression and control. Children whose expressions of anger are met with harsh punishment (yelling, threatening or physical punishment) are unlikely to learn how to handle these feelings, possibly leading to aggression. Children whose expressions of sadness or worries are dismissed or ridiculed can go on to develop depression or anxiety. Many parent training programs emphasize behaviour management, but don’t offer teaching around emotional regulation. The Tuning in to Kids program was created to teach parents how to learn these skills for use themselves and how to teach them to their children.
The Research: This article reports on the results of a follow-up study of a community-based program. The original research study looked at teaching parents of young children how to identify and respond to their emotions and to teach these skills to their children. In the original study, 216 parents of children aged 4 to 5 years 11 months who were recruited from the community, were randomly assigned to either an active treatment group or the wait list Control group. Parents answered questionnaires on their own beliefs about emotions and how they coped when their children expressed anger, worries, or sadness. During six parenting group sessions, the parents were taught how to respond to and coach their children in dealing with their emotions. The children’s teachers also filled out questionnaires about each child’s behaviour in the classroom.
At six-month follow up, 161 parent and child pairs were available to answer the questionnaires again. Independent observers also recorded interactions between parent and child to see if the parents had adopted the emotion coaching strategies and if their children’s behaviour and emotional control had improved, compared to the control group.
Results: Compared to the wait list control group, parents in the intervention group reported improvement in their own ability to identify and regulate their own emotions. Both parents and teachers reported improved child behaviour. The parents were also more able to identify how their own upbringing has an impact on their behaviour with their children. These insights can help improve the parents’ relationships within the family and with other adults.
The preceding is a summary of: Havighurst SS, Wilson KR, Harley AE, Prior MR, Kehoe C. Turning in to Kids: Improving emotion socialization practices in parents of preschool children – findings from a community trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2010; 51(12): 1342-1350.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 January 2011 12:49|