Norland, in collaboration with Emotion Coaching UK, is delighted to announce its partnership in a new national research trial to examine whether training early years staff to engage in responsive relationships with young children using emotion coaching can support young children’s ability to self-regulate. 

Commissioned and co-funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Department for Education’s Stronger Practice Hubs, the trial will assess the impact of emotion coaching on the development of self-regulation in three and four-year-olds within 160 early years settings across England. 

The emotion coaching programme, developed and delivered by Emotion Coaching UK in collaboration with Norland, will support educators to enhance children’s self-regulation skills and improve their ability to manage emotions and behaviour through a four-step process.   

The educators involved in the trial will receive online professional development training in:  

1.        Recognising the child’s feelings and empathising with them. 

2.        Validating these feelings and labelling them. 

3.        Setting expectations for appropriate behaviour, given the context. 

4.        Problem-solving with the child. 

This is the first EEF-commissioned early years study to focus on Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) and will represent a significant contribution to the early years research evidence base. ​ ​  

Early years settings, including school-based nurseries and private, voluntary and independent settings, can register to take part in the study which will be a randomised and controlled trial, and independently evaluated by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).  

Norland student and child reading together in a garden

Emotion coaching is an evidence-based communication strategy, based on psychologist John Gottman’s parenting and relational research, that supports children to understand the different emotions they experience and to learn to self-regulate their behaviour and manage their stress responses more effectively.  

Originally identified as an effective way that parents communicated with their children around challenging behaviours, the strategy has been shown to be highly successful in educational settings as well as in the home. It is based on the idea that emotions and behaviour are connected and that emotions drive behaviour. Gottman’s research noted that children who were emotion coached achieved more academically in school, were more popular, had fewer behavioural problems, fewer infectious illnesses, were more emotionally stable and more resilient. Further research co-led by Norland’s Principal, Dr Janet Rose, has also shown that emotion coaching can help practitioners to become more sensitive and consistent in their responses to children’s behaviour, building more positive relationships and trust.   

Emotion coaching is one of the approaches Norland students learn throughout their BA (Hons) Early Childhood Education and Care degree and diploma training, which includes modules focused on self-regulation.  

Dr Rebecca Digby, Head of Teaching, Learning and Research at Norland, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this transformative trial in emotion coaching for the early years sector.  

“The practice of empathetically engaging with a child is key to supporting their development in self-regulation. Norland students learn the theory and practice behind supporting children to develop self-regulation, its importance for healthy development and the adult’s role as a co-regulator, laying the foundation for resilience and wellbeing for the children in their care and for their role as nanny.  

“This large study will shine a light on the importance of self-regulation and provide further evidence-based research of the impact that strategies such as emotion coaching can have on young children’s early development.”  

For more information or to sign up on behalf of an organisation, visit the Emotion Coaching UK website to express your interest.  

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