Improve Psychological Need Satisfaction in School Students with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“mindfulness does much more than just create a positive classroom culture. Some of the purported benefits of mindfulness include decreasing stress and anxiety, improving self-esteem and self-regulation, and increasing calm.” – Lily Jones
Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. The stresses can create difficulties in satisfying the adolescent’s needs and create frustration with the lack of need satisfaction.
Mindfulness training has been shown in adolescents to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. Autonomy-supportive teaching involves taking students’ perspectives, offering choices to students, and providing rationales to decision making. This type of teaching may help adolescents to make better decisions and be better able to satisfy their needs. So, it would make sense to study the relationships of mindfulness and autonomy-supportive teaching on need satisfaction and frustration in adolescents.
In today’s Research News article “Autonomy-Supportive Teaching and Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction among School Students: The Role of Mindfulness. International journal of environmental research and public health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6679142/), Li and colleagues recruited Chinese secondary school children (grades 7-12) and had them complete a questionnaire. They answered questions as to the autonomy-supportiveness of their Physical Education teacher, their need satisfaction, need frustration, and mindfulness.
They found that the higher the levels of autonomy-supportive teaching the higher the levels of mindfulness and need satisfaction and the lower the levels of need frustration. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of need satisfaction and the lower the levels of need frustration. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the relationship of autonomy-supportive teaching with higher need satisfaction and lower need frustration was greater with greater levels of mindfulness. A path analysis revealed the mindfulness was related to higher need satisfaction and lower need frustration both directly and indirectly by being associated with higher levels of autonomy-supportive teaching.
It should be kept in mind that the study was correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Regardless, the study suggests that a teaching strategy of encouraging autonomy and decision making may enhance mindfulness and in turn improve ability to satisfy needs and decrease frustration. That mindfulness may enhance the influence of autonomy-supportive teaching makes sense as the development of mindfulness may provide a more accurate and non-judgmental awareness of the current environment allowing autonomous decision making to be better tailored to the current state of affairs and thereby be more effective.
So, improve psychological need satisfaction in school students with mindfulness.
“Students who received the mindfulness training reported that their stress levels went down after the training, while the students in the control group did not. Students in the mindfulness training group also reported fewer negative feelings, such as sadness or anger, after the training.” – Science Daily
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Li, C., Kee, Y. H., Kong, L. C., Zou, L., Ng, K. L., & Li, H. (2019). Autonomy-Supportive Teaching and Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction among School Students: The Role of Mindfulness. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(14), 2599. doi:10.3390/ijerph16142599
Grounded in self-determination theory, the purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between autonomy-supportive teaching, mindfulness, and basic psychological need satisfaction/frustration. Secondary school students (n = 390, Mage = 15) responded to a survey form measuring psychological constructs pertaining to the research purpose. A series of multiple regression analysis showed that autonomy-supportive teaching and mindfulness positively predicted need satisfaction and negatively predicted need frustration. In addition, the associations between autonomy-supportive teaching and need satisfaction/frustration were moderated by mindfulness. Students higher in mindfulness were more likely to feel need satisfaction and less likely to experience need frustration, even in a low autonomy-supportive teaching environment. These results speak to the relevance of creating autonomy-supportive teaching environments and highlight mindfulness as a potential pathway to basic psychological need satisfaction in educational settings.