Reduce Parenting Stress and Improve Youth Psychological Health with Mindfulness

Reduce Parenting Stress and Improve Youth Psychological Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. Mindfulness is about letting go of guilt and shame about the past and focusing on right now. It’s about accepting whatever is going on, rather than trying to change it or ignore it.” – Jill Ceder

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. The challenges of parenting require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction.

 

Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child. Mindful parenting has been shown to have positive benefits for both the parents and the children. The research is accumulating. So, it is important to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mindfulness Interventions for Parents on Parenting Stress and Youth Psychological Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562566/), Burgdorf and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the effects of mindfulness training on parents and children. They found 25 published studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that following mindfulness training there were moderate to large reductions in parental stress levels. They also found that parental mindfulness training improved their children with significant improvements observed in internalizing and externalizing symptoms, in higher level thinking ability (cognitive domains), and in their social function. In addition, the greater the reductions in parental stress levels reported, the greater the improvements in youth cognitive abilities and externalizing symptoms. Hence, mindfulness training for parents affected the family positively, reducing the perceived stress of parenting and improving their children’s psychological and social abilities. Mindfulness training would appear to have very positive benefits for parents and children.

 

So, reduce parenting stress and improve youth psychological health with mindfulness.

 

“It seems there’s no one right way to parent mindfully. Happily, there are many right ways. . . And sometimes, “It’s as simple as practicing paying full attention to our kids, with openness and compassion, and maybe that’s enough at any moment.” – Juliann Garey

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Burgdorf, V., Szabó, M., & Abbott, M. J. (2019). The Effect of Mindfulness Interventions for Parents on Parenting Stress and Youth Psychological Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1336. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01336

 

Abstract

Background: The psychological well-being of parents and children is compromised in families characterized by greater parenting stress. As parental mindfulness is associated with lower parenting stress, a growing number of studies have investigated whether mindfulness interventions can improve outcomes for families. This systematic review and meta-analysis evaluates the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions for parents, in reducing parenting stress and improving youth psychological outcomes.

Methods: A literature search for peer-reviewed articles and dissertations was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines in the PsycInfo, Medline, PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses databases. Studies were included if they reported on a mindfulness-based intervention delivered in person to parents with the primary aim of reducing parenting stress or improving youth psychological outcomes.

Results: Twenty-five independent studies were included in the review. Eighteen studies used a single group design and six were randomized controlled trials. Within-groups, meta-analysis indicated a small, post-intervention reduction in parenting stress (g = 0.34), growing to a moderate reduction at 2 month follow-up (g = 0.53). Overall, there was a small improvement in youth outcomes (g = 0.27). Neither youth age or clinical status, nor time in mindfulness training, moderated parenting stress or overall youth outcome effects. Youth outcomes were not moderated by intervention group attendees. Change in parenting stress predicted change in youth externalizing and cognitive effects, but not internalizing effects. In controlled studies, parenting stress reduced more in mindfulness groups than control groups (g = 0.44). Overall, risk of bias was assessed as serious.

Conclusions: Mindfulness interventions for parents may reduce parenting stress and improve youth psychological functioning. While improvements in youth externalizing and cognitive outcomes may be explained by reductions in parenting stress, it appears that other parenting factors may contribute to improvements in youth internalizing outcomes. Methodological weaknesses in the reviewed literature prevent firm conclusions from being drawn regarding effectiveness. Future research should address these methodological issues before mindfulness interventions for parents are recommended as an effective treatment option for parents or their children.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562566/

 

Improve Mindfulness and Parenting in Military Mothers with Mindfulness Training

Improve Mindfulness and Parenting in Military Mothers with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Being a mindful parent means that you pay attention to what you’re feeling. It does not mean that you will not get angry or upset. Of course you will feel negative emotions, but acting on them mindlessly is what compromises our parenting.” – Jill Cedar

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. The challenges of parenting require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction.

 

Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child. Mindful parenting has been shown to have positive benefits for both the parents and the children. The need for mindful parenting is greater in military families where parents may periodically be away on deployment. So, it is important to further investigate the effects of mindfulness training on military families.

 

In today’s Research News article “Do Less Mindful Mothers Show Better Parenting via Improvements in Trait Mindfulness Following a Military Parent Training Program?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491856/), Zhang and colleagues recruited military mothers who either themselves or their partner had been deployed. They were randomly assigned to receive services as usual (control condition) or to receive a 14-week program of training in parenting, mindfulness, and emotion coaching of children. They were measured before and 1 and 2 years after the intervention for post-traumatic stress, negative life experiences, mindfulness, coping with children’s negative emotions, parental efficacy, and self-reported and observed parenting skills.

 

They found that mothers who received the training and were low in mindfulness to begin with had significantly greater increases in mindfulness 1 but not 2 years later than the control mothers or mothers who were high in mindfulness at the start. They also found that the higher the mother’s level of mindfulness at the 1-year follow-up the higher their levels of self-reported parenting skills, locus of control, and coping with children’s negative emotions at the 2-year follow-up.

 

These finding suggest that training in parenting skills and mindfulness can produce long lasting improvements in the mindfulness and parenting skills of military mothers after either they or their partner were deployed. This was especially true for mothers who were low in mindfulness to begin with. The study lacks and active control. But it is unlikely that placebo or experimenter bias effects last for up to 2 years. So, it is likely that the training was responsible for the effects. It would be interesting in future research to investigate the impact of the training on the children’s health, well-being, and behavior.

 

So, improve mindfulness and parenting in military mothers with mindfulness training.

 

With practice, you’ll find yourself calmer most of the time. Your child will be more cooperative, just because you’re different. And when you’re in a more peaceful state, you’ll find that some of the challenges with your child simply begin to melt away.” – Aha Parenting

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zhang, N., Zhang, J., & Gewirtz, A. H. (2019). Do Less Mindful Mothers Show Better Parenting via Improvements in Trait Mindfulness Following a Military Parent Training Program? Frontiers in psychology, 10, 909. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00909

 

Abstract

Parental deployment to war poses risks to children’s healthy adjustment. The After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT) program was developed for post-deployed military families to promote children’s well-being through improving effective parenting. ADAPT combines behavior management with emotion socialization skills for parents, using brief mindfulness practices to strengthen emotion regulation. We used a three-wave longitudinal, experimental design to examine whether ADAPT improved parental trait mindfulness (PTM), and whether the effect was moderated by baseline PTM. We also investigated whether improved PTM was associated with behavioral, cognitive, and emotional aspects of parenting such as self-reported parental locus of control (PLOC), self-reported parental emotion socialization (PES), self-reported and observed behavioral parenting skills. We analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the ADAPT, with a focus on mothers (n = 313) who were either deployed (17.9%) or non-deployed and partnered with a husband who had been recently deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan and returned (82.1%). Families identified a 4–13-year-old target child (Mean age = 8.34, SD = 2.48; 54.3% girls) and were randomized into ADAPT (a group-based 14-week program) or a control condition (services as usual). At baseline, 1-year, and 2-year follow-up, PTM, PLOC, PES, and parenting skills were self-reported, whereas home-based family interactions involving parents and the child were video-taped and assessed for observed behavioral parenting skills such as discipline and problem-solving using a theory-based coding system. Results showed that mothers with lower baseline PTM reported higher PTM at 1-year while mothers with higher baseline PTM reported lower PTM at 1-year. PTM at 1-year was associated with improved self-reported parenting skills and supportive PES at 2-year, as well as indirectly associated with improved PLOC and reduced nonsupportive PES at 2-year through PTM at 2-year. No associations between PTM and observed parenting skills were detected. We discuss the implications of these findings for incorporating mindfulness practices into behavioral parenting interventions and for personalized prevention considering parents’ pre-existing levels of trait mindfulness as a predictor of intervention responsivity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491856/

 

Shift Work Increases Stress, Psychopathology, and Family Conflict and Less Mindful Parenting

Shift Work Increases Stress, Psychopathology, and Family Conflict and Less Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

When you work at night, you’re cut off from friends and family, you have little social support, your diet may not be as healthy.” – David Ballard

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. Our work situation can have profound effects on the family and child rearing practices.

 

It has been shown that low workload and high sleep quality are important to high levels of mindfulness during work which, in turn leads to many benefits for the job and the employee. Keeping workload at a reasonable level should improve both sleep quality and mindfulness which should, in turn, promote better work. It should also promote better family life and more mindful parenting. But there is actually very little systematic research on the effects of the work environment and schedule on the individual’s family life and mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Work-Family Conflict and Mindful Parenting: The Mediating Role of Parental Psychopathology Symptoms and Parenting Stress in a Sample of Portuguese Employed Parents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00635/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A), Moreira and colleagues recruited parents of children of any age up to 19 years online and had them complete an online questionnaire measuring type of employment, work schedule, hours worked per week, work-family conflict, anxiety, depression, parenting stress, and mindful parenting, including subscales of listening with full attention, compassion for the child,  non-judgmental acceptance of parental functioning, self-regulation in parenting, and emotional awareness of the child.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindful parenting, including each of the 5 subscales, the lower the levels of work-family conflict, anxiety, depression, and parenting stress. They also found that parents with a shift work schedule and also parents working full-time had significantly higher levels of work-family conflict. On the other hand, parents with flexible schedules had significantly higher levels of mindful parenting. In addition, path modelling revealed that higher levels of work-family conflict were indirectly associated with lower levels of mindful parenting through anxiety and depression symptoms and parenting stress. In other words, work-family conflict heightened anxiety and depression symptoms and parenting stress which in turn lowered mindful parenting.

 

These results are interesting but correlational, so no definitive conclusions regarding causation can be reached. But the results suggest that work scheduling has a large association with the mental health of the parents and as a result with mindful parenting. Shift-work is associated with greater parental mental health issues and lower mindful parenting while flexible work schedules have the opposite effect, being associated with better parental mental health and better mindful parenting.

 

There is a need in future research to manipulate work scheduling to observe its causal impact. But tentatively, the current research suggests that companies should investigate the implementation of more flexible work schedules for their employees. The improvement of their mental health and the consequent improvement of family life would likely make the employees, healthier, happier, and more productive and loyal to their employer. In addition, the improved mindful parenting would likely improve the well-being of the children.

 

We leave decisions about flexibility and the organization of work to individual companies, which means that the decisions of first-line managers in large part create our national family policy.”- Fran Sussner Rogers

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Moreira H, Fonseca A, Caiado B and Canavarro MC (2019) Work-Family Conflict and Mindful Parenting: The Mediating Role of Parental Psychopathology Symptoms and Parenting Stress in a Sample of Portuguese Employed Parents. Front. Psychol. 10:635. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00635

 

Aims: The aims of the current study are to examine whether parents’ work-family conflict, emotional distress (anxiety/depressive symptoms and parenting stress) and mindful parenting vary according to the type of employment (full-time, part-time, and occasional), the type of work schedule (fixed, flexible, and shift), and the number of working hours per week and to explore whether parental emotional distress mediates the association between work-family conflict and mindful parenting dimensions.

Methods: A sample of 335 employed parents (86.3% mothers) of children and adolescents between the ages of 1 and 19 years old completed a sociodemographic form and measures of work-family conflict, anxiety/depression symptoms, parenting stress, and mindful parenting. The differences in study variables among types of employment, work schedules and number of weekly working hours were analyzed. A path model was tested through structural equation modeling in AMOS to explore the indirect effect of work-family conflict on mindful parenting dimensions through anxiety, depression and parenting stress. The invariance of the path model across children’s age groups (toddlers, preschool and grade school children, and adolescents) and parents’ gender was also examined.

Results: Parents with a shift work schedule, working full-time and 40 h or more per week, presented significantly higher levels of work-family conflict than those with a fixed or flexible schedule, working part-time and less than 40 h per week, respectively. Parents with a flexible work schedule presented significantly higher levels of self-regulation in parenting and of non-judgmental acceptance of parental functioning than parents with a shift work schedule. Higher levels of work-family conflict were associated with lower levels of mindful parenting dimensions through higher levels of anxiety/depression symptoms and parenting stress. The model was invariant across children’s age groups and parents’ gender.

Discussion: Work-family conflict is associated with poorer parental mental health and with less mindful parenting. Workplaces should implement family-friendly policies (e.g., flexible work arrangements) that help parents successfully balance the competing responsibilities and demands of their work and family roles. These policies could have a critical impact on the mental health of parents and, consequently, on their parental practices.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00635/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A

 

Improve Children’s Generosity with Mindful Parenting

Improve Children’s Generosity with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“To bring mindful attention and awareness into your interactions with your child really seems to set the stage for you to be a good parent,” – Justin Parent

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. The challenges of parenting require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction.

 

Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child. Mindful parenting has been shown to have positive benefits for both the parents and the children. So, it is important to further investigate the nature of the effects of mindful parenting on the behavior of children.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Role of Mindful Parenting in Individual and Social Decision-Making in Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00550/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A), Wong and colleagues recruited mothers and children who were 4 to 6 years old. The mothers completed a measure of mindful parenting. The children were asked to select a single toy from a chest containing a number of toys. They were rated for time to decision making, decision-related stress, doubt/indecisiveness, and confirmation seeking. The children were also examined for how many stickers that they were willing to share with a stuffed bunny character after the bunny shared some with them.

 

They found that there were no significant relationships between mindful parenting by the mother and any measure of the child’s decision making. But there was a significant relationship between mindful parenting and the child’s sharing behavior such that the greater the mother’s mindful parenting, the greater the sharing behavior by the child.

 

These are interesting findings that mothers who parent mindfully have children who share more generously. It is not known why this would be true. But it can be speculated that mindful parents are themselves more generous toward the child which affects the child’s generosity. Regardless, this higher sharing may result in greater prosocial behaviors as the children grow into adulthood. This is another example of the positive effects of mindful parenting.

 

So, improve children’s generosity with mindful parenting.

 

“Mindful mornings may be less efficient, but they’re more pleasurable. ‘What’s happening right now is all there is. Why make everybody unhappy? If we’re five minutes late to preschool it doesn’t change anything. What changes things is the frustration, and the stress that builds up and then everything unravels.’” – Juliann Garey

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wong K, Hicks LM, Seuntjens TG, Trentacosta CJ, Hendriksen THG, Zeelenberg M and van den Heuvel MI (2019) The Role of Mindful Parenting in Individual and Social Decision-Making in Children. Front. Psychol. 10:550. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00550

 

Children are confronted with an increasing amount of choices every day, which can be stressful. Decision-making skills may be one of the most important “21st century skills” that children need to master to ensure success. Many aspects of decision-making, such as emotion regulation during stressful situations, develop in the context of caregiver-child interactions. This study examined whether mindful parenting predicts children’s individual and social decision-making. The current study included 63 mother-child dyads from The Netherlands (Child Mage  = 5.11, SD = 0.88, 50.8% girls). Mothers completed the Dutch version of the Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale (IM-P). A “Choice Task” was developed to measure individual decision-making skills, and a “Sharing Task” was created to measure social decision-making in young children. Higher maternal mindful parenting significantly predicted more sharing after controlling for covariates (child age, sex, SES, maternal education level; Wald = 4.505, p = 0.034). No main effect of maternal mindful parenting was found for any of the individual decision-making measures. These findings suggest that mindful parenting supports children’s social decision-making. Future research should investigate if the combination of mindful parenting and children’s early decision-making skills predict key developmental outcomes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00550/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A

 

Reduce Cell Phone Dependence in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Reduce Cell Phone Dependence in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With its emphasis on harnessing attention with intention (i.e. redirecting it on purpose), mindfulness—with all its scientifically-established health and well-being benefits—has the potential to keep us from drifting hopelessly away from one another. Perhaps it can keep us connected, even though we might only be feet away from one another as we tap out texts, emails ,or check up on our “social” life on social media.” – Mitch Abblett

 

Over the last few decades cell phones have gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. They have also expanded well beyond a telephone and have become powerful hand-held computers known as smartphones. In fact, they have become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. We have become seriously attached. They have become so dominant that, for many, the thought of being without it produces anxiety. Many people have become addicted. It is estimated that about 12% of the population is truly “addicted,” developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived of them.

 

Recent surveys and studies paint a vivid picture of our cell phone addiction: we feel a surge of panic when we are separated from our beloved cell phones. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature and causes. In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00598/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A), Li and colleagues examine the relationships of parental attachment, alexithymia, and mindfulness with cell phone dependence in adolescents. They recruited adolescents (average age 14.9 years) and had them complete scales measuring parental attachment, alexithymia, mindfulness, and mobile phone dependence.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness and parental attachment the lower the levels of mobile phone dependence and that the higher the levels of alexithymia the lower the levels of parental attachment and the higher the levels of mobile phone dependence. In a mediational analysis they found that the relationship between parental attachment and mobile phone dependence was moderated by mindfulness such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the impact of parental attachment on lowering the levels of mobile phone dependence. Similarly, they found that the relationship between alexithymia and mobile phone dependence was moderated by mindfulness such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the less the impact of alexithymia on heightening the levels of mobile phone dependence.

 

These findings suggest that youth with secure attachment to their parents become less dependent on their mobile phones and that this association is strengthened by mindfulness. In other words, mindful youths are more highly impacted by their attachment to their parents. Alexithymia “is characterized by reduced capacity to identify, analyze and express emotions, restricted imagination, and an externally oriented thinking.” Hence, the findings also suggest that youth with poor emotion regulation become more attached to the mobile phones and that mindful youths are less impacted by their lack of emotion regulation. So, mindfulness is associated with lower dependence on mobile phones by moderating the associations of parental attachment and alexithymia on mobile phone dependence.

 

Since mobile phone dependence is becoming more and more of a problem it is important to find antidotes. Mindfulness may be just such an antidote. The present results, though, are correlational and causation cannot be determined. So, it remains to be seen if mindfulness training can, in fact, alter the relationships of parental attachment and alexithymia with mobile phone dependence. This will be important to determine in the future as mindfulness training may be used to lower the dependence of youths on mobile phones and thereby improve their connections with other people and their environment, improving their well-being.

 

So, reduce cell phone dependence in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

“To say we are addicted to our phones is not merely to point out that we use them a lot. It signals a darker notion: that we use them to keep our own selves at bay. Because of our phones, we may find ourselves incapable of sitting alone in a room with our own thoughts floating freely in our own heads, daring to wander into the past and the future, allowing ourselves to feel pain, desire, regret and excitement.” – Stephany Tlalka

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Li X and Hao C (2019) The Relationship Between Parental Attachment and Mobile Phone Dependence Among Chinese Rural Adolescents: The Role of Alexithymia and Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 10:598. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00598

 

Mobile phone has experienced a significant increase in popularity among adolescents in recent years. Findings indicate dependence on mobile phone is related to poor parent-child relationship. However, previous research on mobile phone dependence (MPD) is scant and mainly focus on adult samples. In this view, the present study investigated the association between parental attachment and MPD as well as its influence mechanism, in sample of adolescents in rural China. Data were collected from three middle schools in rural areas of Jiangxi and Hubei Province (N = 693, 46.46% female, Mage = 14.88, SD = 1.77). Participants completed the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA), the twenty-item Toronto alexithymia scale (TAS-20), the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and the Mobile Phone Addiction Index Scale (MPAI). Among the results, parental attachment negatively predicted MPD and alexithymia were exerting partial mediation effect between parental attachment and MPD. Further, mindfulness acted as moderator of the relationship between alexithymia and MPD: The negative impact of alexithymia on MPD was weakened under the condition of high level of mindfulness. Knowledge of this mechanism could be useful for understanding adolescents’ MPD in terms of the interaction of multiple factors.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00598/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A

 

Improve Adolescent’s Self-Compassion and Reduce Emotional Eating with Mindful Parenting

Improve Adolescent’s Self-Compassion and Reduce Emotional Eating with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Interestingly, parents who simply had higher trait mindfulness did not see significantly better outcomes for their kids, suggesting that being mindful and being a mindful parent may be two different things.” – Jill Suttie

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. These challenges require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child.

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Sadly, children and adolescents have not been spared with 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) classified as obese. This can be particularly troubling to adolescents who are very sensitive regarding their bodies and appearance and can be the victim of ridicule or shaming by peers.

 

One helpful method to reduce intake and help to control body weight is mindful eating. It involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity and mindfulness training has been shown to reduce binge eating, emotional eating, and external eating. In addition, mindfulness has been shown to improve the individual’s ability to respond adaptively to emotions. Hence, mindfulness may be an antidote to emotional eating. It is not known if mindful parenting can reduce emotional eating in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is Mindful Parenting Associated With Adolescents’ Emotional Eating? The Mediating Role of Adolescents’ Self-Compassion and Body Shame.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_812127_69_Psycho_20181030_arts_A ), Gouveia and colleagues recruited parent-adolescent dyads of mother or father and their 12-18 year old adolescent. The parents were measured for body size and mindful parenting. The adolescents were measured for body size, self-compassion, body shame, and emotional eating. The dyads were separated based upon the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the adolescents into normal weight and overweight and obese (BMI > 85th percentile) groups. They then performed a regression analysis of the data.

 

They found that the best fitting model of the data indicated that mindful parenting of the adolescents by the parents was associated indirectly with reduced emotional eating by the adolescents. The indirect path indicated that mindful parenting was associated with increased adolescent self-compassion which was in turn associated both with reduced emotional eating and reduced feelings of shame concerning their bodies which in turn was associated with reduced emotional eating. They also found that the facet of mindful parenting that was most associated with the benefits was the parents’ compassion for the child.

 

These results are correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation can be inferred. The results, however, are suggestive that the parents’ compassion for the child affects the child’s feelings of compassion toward itself which helps the child overcome feeling of shame about its body, all of which contribute to reduced eating in response to emotions. It remains for future research to determine if promoting parental compassion toward the adolescent may cause positive change in the adolescent, improving self-compassion, reducing body shame, and in turn reducing emotional eating.

 

So, improve adolescent’s self-compassion and reduce emotional eating with mindful parenting.

 

“Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. . . It’s about accepting whatever is going on, rather than trying to change it or ignore it. Being a mindful parent means that you pay attention to what you’re feeling. It does not mean that you will not get angry or upset. Of course you will feel negative emotions, but acting on them mindlessly is what compromises our parenting.” – Parent Co

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Gouveia MJ, Canavarro MC and Moreira H (2018) Is Mindful Parenting Associated With Adolescents’ Emotional Eating? The Mediating Role of Adolescents’ Self-Compassion and Body Shame. Front. Psychol. 9:2004. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004

 

This study aimed to explore whether parents’ mindful parenting skills were associated with adolescents’ emotional eating through adolescents’ levels of self-compassion and body shame. The sample included 572 dyads composed of a mother or a father and his/her child (12–18 years old), with normal weight (BMI = 5–85th percentile) or with overweight/obesity with or without nutritional treatment (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) according to the WHO Child Growth Standards. Parents completed self-report measures of mindful parenting (Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale), and adolescents completed measures of self-compassion (Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form), body shame (Experience of Shame Scale), and emotional eating (Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire). Two path models, one with the total score for mindful parenting and the other with its dimensions, were tested in AMOS. Mindful parenting, specifically the dimension of compassion for the child, was indirectly associated with emotional eating through adolescents’ self-compassion (point estimate = −0.27, p = 0.03, CI 95% [−0.61, −0.06]) and through self-compassion and body shame sequentially (point estimate = −0.19, p = 0.03, CI 95% [−0.37, −0.05]). The path model was invariant across weight groups but not across adolescents’ sex (the indirect effects were significant among girls only). This study provides a novel comprehensive model of how mindful parenting, especially the dimension of compassion for the child, can be associated with adolescents’ emotional eating behaviors by suggesting a potential sequence of mechanisms that may explain this association. This study suggests the beneficial effect of both mindful parenting and adolescents’ self-compassion skills for adolescent girls struggling with feelings of body shame and emotional eating behaviors.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_812127_69_Psycho_20181030_arts_A

 

Improve Parenting and Reduce Stress with Mindfulness

Improve Parenting and Reduce Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“We can practice ‘mindful listening’ by simply being present for the other person, and giving them space to talk without imposing our own agenda. As one person in a family consciously practicing mindfulness in this way, you may find that you are modeling it for the others, and quietly encouraging them to listen with greater attention and empathy.” – Tessa Watt

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But, it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. They are often affected more by peers, for good or evil, than by parents. It is the parents challenge to control themselves, not overreact, and act appropriately in the face of strong emotions. Meeting these challenges becomes more and more important with adolescents, as here are the greatest struggles for independence and the potential for damaging behaviors, particularly, alcohol, drugs, and sexual behavior.

 

own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child.

 

In today’s Research News article “Benefits of Mindfulness for Parenting in Mothers of Preschoolers in Chile.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01443/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_755938_69_Psycho_20180904_arts_A ),   Corthorn examined the effects of mindfulness training on parenting. They recruited healthy adult mothers of preschool children (2-5 years of age). They formed a no treatment control group and a mindfulness training group which received an 8 week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) that was adapted for mothers. They met for 2 hours per week for discussion and practiced mindful meditation and yoga. They were also instructed to practice at home. Both groups were measured before and after training and 2 months later for mindfulness, parenting stress, anxiety, depression, and mindful parenting, including subscales measuring listening with full attention, self-regulation in the parenting relationship, non-judgmental acceptance of self, and empathy and acceptance for the child.

 

They found in comparison to the control group and the baseline that after mindfulness training there was a significant reduction in parental stress and significant increases in mindfulness and mindful parenting including the subscales measuring non-judgmental acceptance of self as a mother, listening with full attention, self-regulation in the parenting relationship, and empathy and acceptance for the child. These improvements were maintained over the two months follow-up period. They also found that after training but not 2 months later there were significant decreases in overall stress and parental stress subscales of “Parental Distress” and “Difficult Child”.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) adapted for mothers produced significant and lasting improvements in the mothers’ mindfulness and parenting skills and reduced their stress levels. It has been clearly shown by other research that mindfulness training reduces the psychological and physiological responses to stress, and improves parenting  Future research should investigate the effects of the mothers’ participation on the well-being of their children. But, it is clear that mindfulness training is beneficial for the mothers. The mothers are better able to listen to, empathize with, and accept their children and these benefits would predict greater psychological health in the children.

 

So, improve parenting and reduce stress with mindfulness.

 

“As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our children is the gift of our full presence, in the moment. This is the deep intention and invitation for parents as they make space for mindfulness practice in their lives. Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and fundamentally to ourselves.” – Lisa Kring

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Corthorn C (2018) Benefits of Mindfulness for Parenting in Mothers of Preschoolers in Chile. Front. Psychol. 9:1443. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01443

 

The present study evaluated whether mothers’ participation in a mindfulness-based intervention led to statistically significant differences in their general levels of stress, depression, anxiety, parental stress, mindful parenting, and mindfulness. Forty-three mothers of preschool-age children participated, 21 in the intervention group and 22 in the comparison group. Scores of mental health variables were within normal ranges before the intervention. All of the participants worked at the Universidad Católica de Chile (Catholic University of Chile), and their children attended university preschool centers. Repeated measured ANOVA analysis were performed considering differences between gain scores of each group, rather than post-treatment group differences. This was chosen in order to approach initial differences in some of the measures (mindfulness, mindful parenting, and stress) probably due to self-selection. As predicted, the intervention group showed a significant reduction in general and parental stress and an increase in mindful parenting and general mindfulness variables when compared with the comparison group. Effect sizes ranged from small to medium, with the highest Cohen’s d in stress (general and parental) and mindful parenting. In most cases, the significant change was observed between pre- and post-test measures. Follow-up measures indicated that the effects were maintained after 2 months.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01443/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_755938_69_Psycho_20180904_arts_A

 

Improve PTSD and Academic Burnout in Adolescents with Mindfulness and Parental Attachment

Improve PTSD and Academic Burnout in Adolescents with Mindfulness and Parental Attachment

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); about 7%-8%. PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, avoiding situations that remind them of the event memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the relationship of individual mindfulness with the ability to cope with the aftermath of traumatic events. Adolescents have been found to be particularly vulnerable to the psychological impact of traumatic events. But, might be buffered by their positive attachment to their parents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships of parental attachment to posttraumatic stress disorder and academic burnout in adolescents following the Yancheng tornado.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5965031/ ), An and colleagues examine the impact of mindfulness and parental support on the ability of adolescents to deal with trauma. In particular they examine youths about a year after a traumatic tornado in their community in China. The tornado killed 99 people, injured approximately 800 and affected more than 1.6 million people. They recruited junior High School students from the affected area and measured them for mindfulness, PTSD symptoms, academic burnout, and parental attachment.

 

They found that the higher the level of student’s mindfulness and parental attachment the lower the level of PTSD symptoms and academic burnout. In addition, the higher the level mindfulness the higher the level of parental attachment. Employing statistical modelling, they found that parental attachment being associated with to lower PTSD symptoms and academic burnout was partially mediated by the student’s level of mindfulness. Hence, higher parental attachment was associated with lower PTSD symptoms and academic burnout directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of mindfulness which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of PTSD symptoms and academic burnout.

 

These are interesting results but they must be interpreted cautiously as the study was correlational. As a result, causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the results suggest that having a positive attachment to parents helps to buffer the adolescent from the effects of trauma and it does so, in part, by improving the youths’ ability to be present in the moment; mindfulness. It can be speculated that positive attachment makes the youth more secure and thereby more able to perceive reality just as it is and not be overly affected by previous negative events. This, in turn, allows them to be more effective in relation to their schooling, reducing burnout.

 

Since, trauma occurs in such a large proportion of the population, producing tremendous suffering, it is important to find ways to lessen its impact. The results suggest that being a good parent and attaching in a positive way with your child promotes mindfulness and my buffer the child from the effects of experiencing a traumatic event.

 

So, improve PTSD and academic burnout in adolescents with mindfulness and parental attachment.

 

“The memories are so painful that many live their life trying to avoid triggers. The problem is that the triggers are everywhere.” But the development of better mindfulness skills “might allow patients to be fully present and lean into these scary or avoided situations.” – Tony King

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

An, Y., Yuan, G., Liu, Z., Zhou, Y., & Xu, W. (2018). Dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships of parental attachment to posttraumatic stress disorder and academic burnout in adolescents following the Yancheng tornado. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 9(1), 1472989. http://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2018.1472989

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • We found that parental attachment and dispositional mindfulness are both negatively correlated with PTSD and academic burnout.
  • We found that parental attachment and dispositional mindfulness are both negatively correlated with academic burnout.
  • We found that dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships between parental attachment and PTSD and academic burnout

ABSTRACT

Background: Previous studies have shown that parental attachment is associated with low severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and low academic burnout in individuals who have experienced traumatic events.

Objective: The present study investigated the ways in which parental attachment is related to PTSD symptoms and academic burnout in Chinese traumatized adolescents by considering the role of dispositional mindfulness.

Method: A total of 443 Chinese adolescents who had experienced a severe tornado one year prior to this study completed measures of parental attachment, dispositional mindfulness, PTSD and academic burnout.

Results: The results showed that our model fitted the data well [χ2/df = 2.968, CFI = 0.971, TLI = 0.955, RMSEA (90% CI) = 0.067 (0.052–0.082)] and revealed that dispositional mindfulness partially mediates the relationship between parental attachment, PTSD severity and academic burnout.

Conclusions: The findings suggested that dispositional mindfulness and parental attachment may be two critical resources in dealing with traumatization and academic burnout.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5965031/

Decrease Adolescent Emotional Problems with Mindful Parenting

Decrease Adolescent Emotional Problems with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our children is the gift of our full presence, in the moment. This is the deep intention and invitation for parents as they make space for mindfulness practice in their lives. Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and fundamentally to ourselves.” – Lisa Kring

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But, it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. They are often affected more by peers, for good or evil, than by parents. It is the parents challenge to control themselves, not overreact, and act appropriately in the face of strong emotions. Meeting these challenges becomes more and more important with adolescents, as here are the greatest struggles for independence and the potential for damaging behaviors, particularly, alcohol, drugs, and sexual behavior.

 

The challenges of parenting require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Indirect Path From Mindful Parenting to Emotional Problems in Adolescents: The Role of Maternal Warmth and Adolescents’ Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_613817_69_Psycho_20180424_arts_A ), Wang and colleagues recruited mothers of 11-14 year old children. The mothers completed a scale measuring mindful parenting, while the children completed scales measuring mindfulness, maternal warmth, and emotional difficulties.

 

A regression analysis found that there was a significant indirect path from mindful parenting and the children’s emotional problems, such that high levels of mindful parenting were associated with high levels of maternal warmth which were in turn associated with high levels of children’s mindfulness which were in turn associated with low levels of children’s emotional problems. So, mindful parenting was not associated with less emotional problems in the children directly, but indirectly through associations with maternal warmth and the children’s levels of mindfulness. This underscores the importance of the child’s mindfulness for improving emotional health and the effect of the mother’s mindful parenting on the child’s mindfulness.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlative and causation cannot be concluded. But the results support the idea that mindful parenting is important for the emotional development of the children by improving the child’s perception of the warmth of the mother and in turn the child’s mindfulness. Future research should train mothers in mindful parenting and examine the effects on the children’s mental health.

 

So, decrease adolescent emotional problems with mindful parenting.

 

“Managing our own emotions and behaviors is the key to teaching kids how to manage theirs. It is the reason airlines tell us to put our oxygen masks on before you can put on your child’s mask. You need to be regulated before you can model regulation for your child. “– Jill Ceder

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wang Y, Liang Y, Fan L, Lin K, Xie X, Pan J and Zhou H (2018) The Indirect Path From Mindful Parenting to Emotional Problems in Adolescents: The Role of Maternal Warmth and Adolescents’ Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 9:546. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546

 

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to have positive effects on children’s emotional functioning, and adaptive parenting practices are associated with fewer emotional problems. However, the association between mindful parenting and adolescent emotional problems has not been studied much. In the current study, the indirect path from mindful parenting to adolescent emotional problems was examined, with maternal warmth and adolescent dispositional mindfulness as potential mediators. A sample of 168 mother–child dyads participated in this study. A serial indirect effects model showed mother’s mindful parenting could decrease adolescent emotional problems through adolescent’s perceived maternal warmth and their dispositional mindfulness. Findings of this study imply that intervention in mindful parenting may have benefits for adolescents’ emotional problems through enhancing maternal warmth and children’s trait mindfulness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_613817_69_Psycho_20180424_arts_A

Improve Parent and Infant Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Parent and Infant Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful parenting is not about being the perfect parent. It’s about being more aware, present in the moment and open-hearted. That makes a huge difference to our children and how we respond to them.” – Myla Kabat-Zinn

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But, it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. They are often affected more by peers, for good or evil, than by parents. It is the parents challenge to control themselves, not overreact, and act appropriately in the face of strong emotions.

 

The initial challenges of parenting begin immediately after birth. Parenting an infant requires that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to their baby. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves having emotional awareness not only of themselves but also having emotional awareness of and compassion for the baby. It also involves having the skills to pay full attention to the baby in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the baby.

 

Hence, it makes sense to learn mindful parenting early in the life of the infant. In today’s Research News article “Mindful with Your Baby: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Effects of a Mindful Parenting Group Training for Mothers and Their Babies in a Mental Health Context.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605590/, Potharst and colleagues examine the effectiveness of mindful parenting training with the infant and mother on psychological states of mother and infant.

 

They recruited mothers of newborns who evidenced high stress levels, mental health problems, infant regulation problems, or mother-infant interaction problems. They provided an 8-week “Mindful with Your Baby” program that was based upon Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).  It occurred in once weekly 2-hour session with both mother and infant present and included home meditation practice and a follow-up session 8 weeks after the conclusion of training. The mothers were measured before and after training and 8 weeks and 1 year later for mindfulness, mindful parenting skills, self-compassion, well-being, psychopathology, parenting stress and confidence, warmth and negativity toward the baby, and infant temperament.

 

The program was acceptable with high attendance rates and only 7% of the participants dropped out. Importantly, they found that compared to baseline the “Mindful with Your Baby” program produced significant increases in mindfulness, mindful parenting skills, and self-compassion that were maintained a year later. There were also improvements in well-being, psychopathology, parenting stress and confidence, warmth and negativity toward the baby, and infant temperament that were weak after training but grew stronger over the one-year period.

 

These are exciting findings but must be tempered with the understanding that there was no control comparison condition and this opens the way for a myriad of alternative, confounding, explanations for the results. A Randomized Controlled Clinical (RCT) is need to confirm the conclusion that the mindfulness training was responsible for the effects. In addition, these mothers were mentally troubled to begin with and may be particularly benefited by mindfulness training. The program need to be tested also with otherwise normal new mothers. Nevertheless, the results suggest that a program of mindfulness training for mothers and their infants may be very effective in improving parenting and improving the psychological conditions of bot the mother and the infant.

 

So, improve parent and infant mental health with mindfulness.

 

“Being mindful while holding a baby can be an incredibly gratifying, renewing and sometimes challenging mindfulness practice. Babies cycle through various states of being throughout their days and nights. How you are in relationship to a baby in these various states is truly a practice in everyday life. It can be helpful to remember that whatever state of being that your baby is in at any particular moment, it is not a permanent condition. Nothing is.” — Nancy Bardacke

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Potharst, E. S., Aktar, E., Rexwinkel, M., Rigterink, M., & Bögels, S. M. (2017). Mindful with Your Baby: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Effects of a Mindful Parenting Group Training for Mothers and Their Babies in a Mental Health Context. Mindfulness, 8(5), 1236–1250. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0699-9

 

Abstract

Many mothers experience difficulties after the birth of a baby. Mindful parenting may have benefits for mothers and babies, because it can help mothers regulate stress, and be more attentive towards themselves and their babies, which may have positive effects on their responsivity. This study examined the effectiveness of Mindful with your baby, an 8-week mindful parenting group training for mothers with their babies. The presence of the babies provides on-the-spot practicing opportunities and facilitates generalization of what is learned. Forty-four mothers with their babies (0–18 months), who were referred to a mental health clinic because of elevated stress or mental health problems of the mother, infant (regulation) problems, or mother-infant interaction problems, participated in 10 groups, each comprising of three to six mother-baby dyads. Questionnaires were administered at pretest, posttest, 8-week follow-up, and 1-year follow-up. Dropout rate was 7%. At posttest, 8-week follow-up, and 1-year follow-up, a significant improvement was seen in mindfulness, self-compassion, mindful parenting, (medium to large effects), as well as in well-being, psychopathology, parental confidence, responsivity, and hostility (small to large effects). Parental stress and parental affection only improved at the first and second follow-ups, respectively (small to medium effects), and maternal attention and rejection did not change. The infants improved in their positive affectivity (medium effect) but not in other aspects of their temperament. Mindful with your baby is a promising intervention for mothers with babies who are referred to mental health care because of elevated stress or mental health problems, infant (regulation) problems, or mother-infant interaction problems.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605590/