‘Tuning in to Kids’ helps parents become emotional coaches

Nearly all parents face those moments when their child throws a tantrum or has a “meltdown.” They are challenging times for parents and difficult ones to prevent and manage.

Starting March 14, Connie Schulz, family outreach specialist for State College Area School District, will present a five-part program at Schlow Centre Region Library that can help parents build and practice emotionally-responsive parenting skills. “Tuning in to Kids” will be held at Schlow library from noon to 1:30 p.m. March 14, 21, 28, and April 4 and 11. The program is free but registration is required and is only for the entire series.

The program, according to Schulz, was developed in 2007 in Melbourne, Australia, by Sophie Havighurst and Ann Harley. Schulz has been offering the program since 2009.

“We help parents develop in their roles as emotion coaches for their children,” she said. “We talk about emotional development in children and how we can teach kids about their emotions, including recognizing, naming and managing them. We also talk about how emotion-coaching works to help children become ready to choose appropriate behaviors as part of the process. Parents will be able to choose more effective responses to their children’s behaviors and emotional distress and hopefully increase calmer interactions.”

Some of the topics that will be covered during the program include understanding your child’s emotional experience, problem-solving and self-care for caregivers, emotion-coaching your child’s anger and more.

While Schlow has fun and educational programs for children nearly every day, it also actively schedules programs during the year that can help parents.

“Our department’s focus is on creating a great environment for families, which includes parents and caregivers,” said Paula Bannon, head of children’s services at Schlow. “Our role as a Family Place Library encourages us to reach out to adults as well as kids to create a place where everybody can learn and grow. As children grow, parents may encounter new challenges that they may not feel prepared to deal with. ‘Tuning in to Kids’ gives parents more tools to work with and guide their children in a positive way.”

Schulz, who is retiring from the school district in June, said the “Tuning in to Kids” program is one of the programs she’ll miss presenting the most.

“Parents who have participated really appreciate knowing that other parents experience similar issues, and they feel better equipped to talk about emotions with their children,” she says. “The class offers a supportive atmosphere in which parents can explore their roles as emotion coaches. I always enjoy these groups and learn new things from participants each time!”

Childcare is provided during the five-week program at no cost, but please make reservations one week prior to the date needed. To register for the program, contact Schulz at ces11@scasd.org or call 231-1070.

David Pencek is the communications manager at Schlow Centre Region Library.