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/

Mindfully be a Better Parent

Mindfully be a Better Parent

 

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 to each  other and their child. In addition, both parents working cooperatively, coparenting, is needed. 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 relationships, And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting and coparenting involve having emotional awareness of themselves and their partner and also having emotional awareness of 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 “Mindfulness in Parenting and Coparenting.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4830503/

Parent and colleagues investigate the relationship between mindfulness and parenting and coparenting in being effective parents. They recruited parents of children in three age ranges; young childhood (3 to 7 years old), middle childhood (8 to 12 years old), and adolescence (13 to 17 years old). They completed measures of mindfulness, mindful parenting (careful listening and attention, low reactivity, non-judgmental responses, emotional awareness, and compassion for the self and the child), mindful coparenting (negotiation of a shared caregiving role between two adults), positive parenting (expressions of warmth and affection, facilitating supportive parent-child communication) and negative parenting (reactive parenting, ineffective discipline), and coparenting relationship quality (increased coparenting agreement, closeness, and support and decreased coparenting conflict and undermining).

 

They found that high levels of parental mindfulness were significantly associated with high levels of mindful parenting and mindful coparenting and low levels of negative parenting. In turn, high levels of mindful parenting were associated with high levels of positive parenting and low levels of negative parenting. High levels of mindful coparenting were associated with high levels of coparenting relationship quality. There were no differences in these effects between parents young, middle or adolescent children. Hence, being mindful makes for better parents directly and indirectly by affecting mindful parenting and coparenting skills.

 

It should be kept in mind that this study was correlational and there were no active manipulations. So, causation cannot be concluded. But previous studies that included mindfulness training have demonstrated that improving mindfulness improved parenting. So, it is reasonable to suggest that the relationships are causally connected. Hence, it appears that mindfulness produces better parenting.

 

So, mindfully be a better parent.

 

“According to new research, children who experience mindful parenting are less likely to use drugs or get depression or anxiety.” – Jill Suttie

 

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

Parent, J., McKee, L. G., Anton, M., Gonzalez, M., Jones, D. J., & Forehand, R. (2016). Mindfulness in Parenting and Coparenting. Mindfulness, 7(2), 504–513. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0485-5

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has been established as a critical psychosocial variable for the well-being of individuals; however, less is understood regarding the role of mindfulness within the family context of parents, coparents, and children. This study tested a model examining the process by which parent dispositional mindfulness relates to parenting and coparenting relationship quality through mindful parenting and coparenting. Participants were 485 parents (59.2% mothers) from three community samples of families with youth across three developmental stages: young childhood (3 – 7 yrs.; n = 164), middle childhood (8 – 12 yrs.; n = 161), and adolescence (13 – 17 yrs.; n = 160). Path analysis using maximum likelihood estimation was employed to test primary hypotheses. The proposed model demonstrated excellent fit. Findings across all three youth development stages indicated both direct effects or parent dispositional mindfulness, as well as indirect effects through mindful parenting and mindful coparenting, with parenting and coparenting relationship quality. Implications for intervention and prevention efforts are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4830503/

Reduce Adolescent Risk Taking with Mindful Parenting

Reduce Adolescent Risk Taking 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, especially with adolescents. Teens 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 parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to 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. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves having emotional awareness of themselves but also having emotional awareness of 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.

 

It is not known how mindful parenting acts to improve adolescent behavior. But, it seems reasonable to postulate that mindful parenting alters parental emotional responses, particularly during parent-child conflict, and this affects the child’s behavior. In today’s Research News article “Mindful Parenting and Parents’ Emotion Expression: Effects on Adolescent Risk Behaviors.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827929/

Tupyn and Chaplin recruited adolescents, aged 12-14 years, and their primary caregiver. Both parents and adolescents completed a family issues questionnaire, including points of conflict, and were assessed for cognitive and emotional functioning, psychological symptoms, and alcohol and substance use as well as breath and urine drug screens. Parents were measured for mindful parenting. Adolescents were assessed for risk behaviors, including substance abuse and sexual risk taking. They then completed a parent-adolescent interaction task in which they discussed the topic which they both identified as the most contentious occurring over the last month. During the discussion, parents were videoed and their emotional expressions rated.

 

They found that higher levels of mindful parenting were associated with lower levels of drug use and sexual engagement. They also found that higher levels of mindful parenting was associated with less parental negative emotion expression in the conflict interaction. In addition, they found that mindful parenting was associated with lower adolescent drug use directly and indirectly by decreasing negative emotion expression in the conflict interaction. Hence, mindful parenting appears to be helpful in lessening the likelihood that adolescents will engage in risky behaviors.

 

These are interesting results and suggest that mindful parenting helps the parent deal with conflict with their adolescents more adaptively and with fewer negative emotions expressed. This, in turn, is associated with lower adolescent drug use. There are three key factors to mindful parenting, noticing feelings when in conflict with the child, learning to pause before responding in anger, and listening carefully to a child’s viewpoint even when disagreeing with it. The mindful parent’s ability to notice feelings when in conflict appears to contribute to its association with lower drug use, producing an indirect effect. It is possible that the ability to delay responding and listen carefully may be responsible for the obtained direct effect of mindful parenting on risky behavior. Regardless of the explanation, the result suggest that mindful parents have adolescents who have fewer risk behaviors.

 

So, reduce adolescent risk taking with mindful parenting.

 

“encouraging more mindful, responsive parenting—and less harsh punishments or yelling—may indirectly help kids to avoid some of the risks of adolescence, such as depression, anxiety, acting out, and drug use. “ – Jill Suttie

 

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

Turpyn, C. C., & Chaplin, T. M. (2016). Mindful Parenting and Parents’ Emotion Expression: Effects on Adolescent Risk Behaviors. Mindfulness, 7(1), 246–254. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0440-5

 

Abstract

Mindful parenting is associated with greater adjustment and fewer behavior problems in children and adolescents. However, the mechanisms by which mindful parenting functions to mitigate risk in adolescence is not well understood. This study investigated parent emotional expression as a potential mechanism in the relationship between low mindful parenting and adolescent risk behaviors. A sample of 157 12-14 year old adolescents (49% female) and their primary caregivers (99% female) participated in an emotionally-arousing conflict interaction. Parents reported on their mindful parenting practices, and parents’ emotion expressions during the conflict interaction were coded including negative emotion, positive emotion, and shared parent-youth positive emotion. Adolescent substance use and sex behaviors were assessed through self-report, interview, and physical toxicology screens. Results indicated that mindful parenting was associated with less parental negative emotion and greater shared positive emotion during the parent-adolescent conflict. Further, results revealed a significant indirect effect of mindful parenting on youth’s substance use through shared parent-adolescent positive emotion. Findings highlight the relevance of emotional functioning in the context of stressful parenting situations in mindful parenting.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827929/

 

 

Improve Parenting and Children’s Psychopathology with Mindful Parenting

Improve Parenting and Children’s Psychopathology 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 as the youth approaches adolescence, as that is the time of the greatest struggle for independence and the potential for damaging behaviors, particularly, alcohol, drugs, and sexual behavior.

 

The challenges of parenting require that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to 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. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves having emotional awareness of themselves but also having emotional awareness of 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.

 

To date, there has not been a direct determination of the influence of mindfulness on parenting and the behavior of their children over childhood and adolescence. In today’s Research News article “The Association of Parent Mindfulness with Parenting and Youth Psychopathology across Three Developmental Stages.” See  summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4520790/

Parent and colleagues recruited parents of children in three age ranges; young childhood (3 to 7 years old), middle childhood (8 to 12 years old), and adolescence (13 to 17 years old). They completed measures of mindfulness, mindful parenting, positive and negative parenting practices, and of their children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors as indicators of the children’s mental health.

 

They found that older parents and parents from two parent households were significantly higher in mindful parenting and positive parenting, and that parents with at least a college education were lower in negative parenting. Importantly, they found that the higher the levels of parental mindfulness the higher the levels of mindful parenting and the lower the levels of negative parenting practices and the children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors. In turn, higher levels of mindful parenting were associated with higher the levels of positive parenting practice and lower the levels of negative parenting practice. In turn, the higher the levels of negative parenting practices the higher the levels of the children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors. These findings were true regardless of whether the children were in young childhood, middle childhood, or adolescence.

 

These results show that parental mindfulness is associated with lower psychopathology in the children both directly and indirectly by association with mindful parenting. They show that mindful parenting is also associated with lower psychopathology in the children by being associated with fewer negative parenting practices. Hence the results show that regardless of the age of the children, mindfulness and mindful parenting are associated with better mental health in the children.

 

This study was correlational and there was no manipulation of the levels of mindfulness. As such, it cannot be determined if there’s a causal relationship between mindfulness in mental health in the children. It is possible that high levels of the children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors may be responsible for the parents’ levels of mindfulness and mindful parenting. It is important, then, that future research actively train parents in mindfulness to determine if higher levels of mindfulness cause better outcomes with the children. Regardless, these results support the contention that mindfulness and mindful parenting are important for successful outcomes in raising children.

 

So, improve parenting and children’s psychopathology with mindful parenting.

 

“The reality is that our childhood impacts our parenting. For a number of reasons, and in a variety of ways, our relationship with our children can trigger memories, emotions, and reaction from our earliest years. Sometimes we realize what’s going on, but more often than not, we don’t. Understanding this dynamic is a powerful first step towards changing some of the unskillful behaviors that may be impacting our experience of parenting and our relationship with our children.”Carla Naumburg

 

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 Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Parent, J., McKee, L. G., Mahon, J., & Foreh, R. (2016). The Association of Parent Mindfulness with Parenting and Youth Psychopathology across Three Developmental Stages. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44(1), 191–202. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-015-9978-x

 

Abstract

The primary purpose of the current study was to test a model examining the process by which parent dispositional mindfulness relates to youth psychopathology through mindful parenting and parenting practices. The universality of the model across youth at three developmental stages was examined: young childhood (3 – 7 yrs.; n = 210), middle childhood (8 – 12 yrs.; n = 200), and adolescence (13 – 17 yrs.; n = 205). Overall, participants were 615 parents (55 % female) and one of their 3-to-17 year old children (45 % female). Parents reported on their dispositional mindfulness, mindful parenting, positive and negative parenting practices and their child’s or adolescent’s internalizing and externalizing problems. Consistent findings across all three developmental stages indicated that higher levels of parent dispositional mindfulness were indirectly related to lower levels of youth internalizing and externalizing problems through higher levels of mindful parenting and lower levels of negative parenting practices. Replication of these findings across families with children at different developmental stages lends support to the generalizability of the model.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4520790/

Get Parents Out of the Dumps with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a lot of the work is about learning to make peace with our imperfections. Because we’re going to do things that are going to land our kids in therapy, we’re gonna do things that hurt our kids. We can beat ourselves up. But if, instead, we were able to make peace with our imperfections and begin to regulate our emotional state, we can be calmer and more present for our kids and cultivate some self-compassion.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common form of mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. In general, it involves feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness, irritability or frustration, loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, sleep disturbances, tiredness and lack of energy, anxiety, agitation, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts or completed suicide. Needless to say individuals with depression are miserable and need help.

 

Depression does not occur in isolation. When an individual in a family is depressed, it affects all of the members of the family. When it is a parent, it affects how the child is raised and what he/she experiences during the formative years. This can have long-lasting effects on the child. So, it is important to study how depression affects childrearing and the child and what are the factors that might mitigate or eliminate the effects of parental depression on the child. Mindfulness training has been shown to both reduce depression and to improve parenting. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed specifically to treat depression and has been found to reduce depression alone or in combination with antidepressive drugs.  Hence, it is reasonable to study the effects of MBCT on parents who suffer with depression and their children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Manual Development and Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Versus Usual Care for Parents with a History of Depression.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/pb.627681673922429.-2207520000.1480075619./1392058374151418/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010613/

Mann and colleagues recruited parents with children who were attending an outpatient depression clinic and randomly assigned them to either continue with treatment as usual or receive a form of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy that was adapted for parents (MBCT-P). They were measured before therapy and 4 and 9 months after for depression, parental stress, mindfulness, self-compassion, and the children’s behavior. They found that the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for parents (MBCT-P) treatment program in comparison to treatment as usual significantly reduced depression and improved mindfulness and self-compassion at 9-months after treatment. They also found that there were significantly fewer behavior problems with the children.

 

These are very interesting and promising results. They suggest that this newly developed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for parents (MBCT-P) program is a safe, effective, and long lasting treatment for parental depression which, in turn, leads to improved behavior in the children. It should be noted that this was a small pilot trial and the results need to be confirmed with a larger number of participants before making firm conclusions. But, the fact that significant results were obtained from such a small sample suggests that the effects of MBCT-P are robust.

 

That MBCT-P relieved depression and improved mindfulness and self-compassion should be expected given the large array of research demonstrating the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for depression. It is an important, but not surprising, consequence of MBCT-P that the children’s behavior was improved. It can be speculated that with the depression relived the parents are better able to engage with their children and be more effective and mindful parents. Future research should investigate precisely what changes occur in parenting behaviors after MBCT-P training and how they affect the children.

 

So, get parents out of the dumps with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness helps parents emerge from autopilot and end ineffective habits, Bertin said. For instance, instead of getting frustrated and yelling at your child during a homework session – like you might usually do — you’re able to pause and observe your feelings, and act in a calmer, and perhaps more effective way.” – Mark Bertin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Mann, J., Kuyken, W., O’Mahen, H., Ukoumunne, O. C., Evans, A., & Ford, T. (2016). Manual Development and Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Versus Usual Care for Parents with a History of Depression. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1024–1033. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0543-7

 

Abstract

Parental depression can adversely affect parenting and children’s development. We adapted mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for parents (MBCT-P) with a history of depression and describe its development, feasibility, acceptability and preliminary estimates of efficacy. Manual development involved interviews with 12 parents who participated in MBCT groups or pilot MBCT-P groups. We subsequently randomised 38 parents of children aged between 2 and 6 years to MBCT-P plus usual care (n = 19) or usual care (n = 19). Parents were interviewed to assess the acceptability of MBCT-P. Preliminary estimates of efficacy in relation to parental depression and children’s behaviour were calculated at 4 and 9 months post-randomisation. Levels of parental stress, mindfulness and self-compassion were measured. Interviews confirmed the acceptability of MBCT-P; 78 % attended at least half the sessions. In the pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT), at 9 months, depressive symptoms in the MBCT-P arm were lower than in the usual care arm (adjusted mean difference = −7.0; 95 % confidence interval (CI) = −12.8 to −1.1; p = 0.02) and 11 participants (58 %) in the MBCT-P arm remained well compared to 6 (32 %) in the usual care arm (mean difference = 26 %; 95 % CI = −4 to 57 %; p = 0.02). Levels of mindfulness (p = 0.01) and self-compassion (p = 0.005) were higher in the MBCT-P arm, with no significant differences in parental stress (p = 0.2) or children’s behaviour (p = 0.2). Children’s behaviour problems were significantly lower in the MBCT-P arm at 4 months (p = 0.03). This study suggests MBCT-P is acceptable and feasible. A definitive trial is needed to test its efficacy and cost effectiveness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010613/

 

Produce Better Diabetes Management in Adolescents with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindful Parenting is a contemplative practice through which our connection to our child, and awareness of our child’s presence, helps us become better grounded in the present moment.” – Scott Rogers

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with a vast array of medical and psychological problems. But, it is also helpful for dealing with everyday life, from work to relationships, to social interactions, to parenting. 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 as the youth approaches adolescence, as that is the time of the greatest struggle for independence and the potential for damaging behaviors, particularly, alcohol, drugs, and sexual behavior.

 

The challenges of parenting require that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to 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. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. This becomes particularly important with children with physical problems. Mindful parenting involves having emotional awareness of themselves but also having emotional awareness of 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. These skills have been shown to help children with psychological problems. But, it is not known if mindful parenting might also help the child better adapt and cope with physical challenges.

 

Type I Diabetes presents a myriad of challenges for any patient and especially for adolescents. Treatment requires rigorous adherence to a demanding schedule, including scheduled injections of insulin, eating programmed amounts at scheduled times, and monitoring activity levels; all with the goal of maintaining control over blood glucose levels. This is difficult for adults but with the emotional turmoil and social demands of adolescence it becomes particularly challenging and can impact on their quality of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Association of Mindful Parenting with Glycemic Control and Quality of Life in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes: Results from Diabetes MILES—The Netherlands.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1371475269543062/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010614/

Serkel-Schrama and colleagues recruited a large sample of adolescents having Type I diabetes and their parents. The parents were asked to report on their child’s HbA1c levels as a measure of glycemic control and the number of severe events related to glycemic control including hospitalizations, and to complete and mindful parenting scale which included subscales measuring full attention, compassion for the child, non-judgmental acceptance of parental functioning, emotional non-reactivity in parenting, emotional awareness of the child, emotional awareness of self.  The adolescents completed self-report scales measuring overall quality of life and diabetes specific quality of life.

 

They found that adolescents who had higher levels of overall and diabetes specific quality of life were significantly more likely to have parents who were high in mindful parenting skills. Boys who had parents high in mindful parenting skills had significantly better glycemic control (HbA1c levels) while girls who had parents high in mindful parenting skills had significantly fewer hospitalizations for ketoacidosis. Hence, mindful parenting skills were associated with higher quality of life for the adolescents with Type I diabetes, better glycemic control in adolescent boys and fewer ketoacidosis events for girls. Hence, mindful parenting was associated with the adolescents being better able to cope with their disease.

 

These results are impressive. Most studies of mindfulness skills report on the effects of mindfulness on the individual themselves. The present study was unusual in that the effects of mindful parenting on the adolescent were reported. Adolescents notoriously are rebellious of parental authority, so the improved ability to cope with diabetes in the youths associated with having parents with mindful parenting skills is particularly impressive. It would appear that mindful parenting has far reaching effects on the children including their ability to deal with physical problems in adolescents.

 

So, produce better diabetes management in adolescents with mindful parenting.

 

“And the good news is that the work may seem invisible, but the results will blow you away. With practice, you’ll find yourself calmer all 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 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

 

Study Summary

Serkel-Schrama, I. J. P., de Vries, J., Nieuwesteeg, A. M., Pouwer, F., Nyklíček, I., Speight, J., … Hartman, E. E. (2016). The Association of Mindful Parenting with Glycemic Control and Quality of Life in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes: Results from Diabetes MILES—The Netherlands. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1227–1237. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0565-1

 

Abstract

The objective of this study was to examine associations between the mindful parenting style of parents of adolescents (aged 12–18) with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), and the glycaemic control and quality of life (QoL) of the adolescents. Chronic health conditions, such as T1DM, that require demanding treatment regimens, can negatively impact adolescents’ quality of life. Therefore, it is important to determine whether mindful parenting may have a positive impact in these adolescents. Age, sex and duration of T1DM were examined as potential moderators. Parents (N = 215) reported on their own mindful parenting style (IM-P-NL) and the adolescents’ glycaemic control. Parents and the adolescents with T1DM (N = 129) both reported on adolescents’ generic and diabetes-specific QoL (PedsQL™). The results showed that a more mindful parenting style was associated with more optimal hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) values for boys. For girls, a more mindful parenting style was associated with not having been hospitalized for ketoacidosis. For both boys and girls, a more mindful parenting style was associated with better generic and diabetes-specific proxy-reported QoL. In conclusion, mindful parenting style may be a factor in helping adolescents manage their T1DM. Mindful parenting intervention studies for parents of adolescents with T1DM are needed to examine the effects on adolescents’ glycaemic control and their quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010614/

 

Be a Better Parent with Self-Compassion

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Parental depression negatively affects fathers’ and mothers’ caregiving, material support, and nurturance, and is associated with poor health and developmental outcomes for children of all ages, including prenatally. Depressed mothers are more likely than non-depressed mothers to have poor parenting skills and to have negative interactions with their children.” – Child Trends

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common form of  mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. In general, it involves feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness, irritability or frustration, loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, sleep disturbances, tiredness and lack of energy, anxiety, agitation, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide. Needless to say individuals with depression are miserable.

 

Depression does not occur in isolation. When an individual in a family is depressed it affects all of the members of the family. When it is a parent, it affects how the child is raised and what he/she experiences during the formative years. This can have long-lasting effects on the child. So, it is important to study how depression affects childrearing and the child and what are the factors that might mitigate or eliminate the effects of parental depression on the child.

 

A characteristic of western society is that many people don’t seem to like themselves.  The term used to describe this that I prefer is self-dislike. This is often highly associated with depression. Its opposite is self-compassion; being kind and understanding toward yourself in the face of inadequacies or short-comings. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of self-compassion with depression and child rearing. In today’s Research News article “Self-Compassion and Parenting in Mothers and Fathers with Depression.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1331610153529574/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923280/

Psychogiou and colleagues do just that. They recruited parents of young children (2-6 years of age) who were also suffering with depression. They measured them for depression, self-compassion, parental emotions, children’s internalizing and externalizing, and parental coping with children’s negative emotions.

 

They found that for both mothers and fathers, low levels of depression were significantly associated with high levels of self-compassion. Parenting ability was also associated with self-compassion, with mother who were high in self-compassion expressing fewer critical comments and more positive comments toward their children. In addition, parents who were high in self-compassion had fewer distressed reactions to their children’s behavior. High parental self-compassion was also significantly associated with the children having low internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Hence, depressed parents who have high levels of self-compassion are less critical of their children, responded better to their children’s behaviors, and produced less self-blame (internalizing) in their children.

 

These findings suggest that self-compassion may be to some extent an antidote to depression and to mitigate the effects of that depression on parenting. It would appear that if the parent is kind and understanding toward themselves it reduces their depression level and the kindness and understanding appears to transfer to their children producing more positive and productive parenting behaviors. But, the interpretation of these findings must be tempered as the results are correlational and as such do not demonstrate causation. Future studies should attempt to manipulate self-compassion and determine the effects of increasing it on depression and parenting. Since, mindfulness practices are known to increase self-compassion and improve caregiving and parenting, it would make sense to apply mindfulness training to depressed parents and observe its effects.

 

So, be a better parent with self-compassion.

 

“We are all used to working on our self-esteem by asking ourselves, “Am I being a good parent or a bad parent?” The problem is that having high self-esteem is contingent upon experiencing success. If we don’t meet our own standards, we feel terrible about ourselves. Self-compassion, in contrast, is not a way of judging ourselves positively or negatively. It is a way of relating to ourselves kindly and embracing ourselves as we are, flaws and all.” – Kristin Neff

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Psychogiou, L., Legge, K., Parry, E., Mann, J., Nath, S., Ford, T., & Kuyken, W. (2016). Self-Compassion and Parenting in Mothers and Fathers with Depression. Mindfulness, 7, 896–908. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0528-6

 

Abstract

Depression in parents impairs parenting and increases the risk of psychopathology among their children. Prevention and intervention could be informed by knowledge of the mechanisms that break the inter-generational transmission of psychopathology and build resilience in both parents and their children. We used data from two independent studies to examine whether higher levels of self-compassion were associated with better parenting and fewer emotional and behavioral problems in children of parents with a history of depression. Study 1 was a pilot trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy that included 38 parents with recurrent depression. Study 2 was a longitudinal study that consisted of 160 families, including 50 mothers and 40 fathers who had a history of depression. Families were followed up approximately 16 months after the first assessment (time 2; n = 106 families). In both studies, self-compassion was assessed with the Self-Compassion Scale. Parents reporting higher levels of self-compassion were more likely to attribute the cause of their children’s behavior to external factors, were less critical, and used fewer distressed reactions to cope with their children’s emotions. Parents’ self-compassion was longitudinally associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing problems, but these associations became nonsignificant after controlling for child gender, parent education, and depressive symptoms. Future larger scale and experimental designs need to examine whether interventions intended to increase self-compassion might reduce the use of negative parenting strategies and thereby the inter-generational transmission of psychopathology.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923280/

 

Reduce Low Self-Control Drug Use with Mindfulness

Mindfulness drug use2 Tarantino

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The idea behind mindfulness meditation is to observe the present moment by paying attention to the breath and body, as well as thoughts and emotions. People with challenges related to addiction tend to act out on addictive behaviors to avoid uncomfortable feelings and to bring pleasure. . . . Mindfulness practices help the client to learn to face the present movement with all of its pleasant and unpleasant sensations, feelings and thoughts.” – Eric Millman

 

College students make up one of the largest groups of drug abusers nationwide. Alcohol is the most abused substance, but there are many others. These include: marijuana, prescription medications (including stimulants, central nervous system depressants, and narcotics), over-the-counter drugs, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy. Of these marijuana is the most commonly abused substance by college students. In fact, 47% of college students have tried it at least once, with 30% admiting to using it in the past year. In addition, one in five college students admits to using amphetamine and 13% of college students admit to using ecstasy at least once in their lives.

 

These are sobering statistics and underscore the need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse in college students. It is established that problematic family environments are linked to college student substance abuse. It has also been established that mindfulness tends to counteract substance abuse. Indeed, mindfulness training has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for reducing drug use and relapse after successful treatment. In today’s Research News article “Parent-Child Conflict and Drug Use in College Women: A Moderated Mediation Model of Self Control and Mindfulness.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1292270250796898/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175297/

Tarantino and colleagues investigate whether mindfulness modulates the effects of difficult family environments on substance abuse.

 

They recruited a large on-line sample of college women and measured perceptions of the relationship between the student and his/her parent, mindfulness, self-control, and drug use. They found that the higher the level of parent-child conflict the higher the level of substance abuse. They also found variables that tended to counteract substance abuse. The higher the levels of mindfulness, self-control, and being in a relationship, the lower the levels of substance abuse. But, by far the strongest negative relationship was between self-control and substance abuse. They also found that mindfulness and self-control modified the effects of parent-child conflict on substance abuse. Mindfulness tended to blunt the effects of parent-child conflict on substance abuse only when the women were low in self-control but not when they were high in self-control.

 

These results suggest that the ability of a problematic home environment to stimulate drug abuse is diminished primarily by high self-control. But, when self-control is low mindfulness blunts the effects of parent-child conflict on substance abuse. “This relation can best be understood as a compensatory effect wherein a higher degree of either self-control or mindfulness protects against a lower degree of the other.” The complexity of these findings suggest that different strategies for treating drug abuse may be needed for women who were low vs. high in self-control. Self-control is the most important factor, but mindfulness training may work well for women who have low self-control. Future research is needed to further clarify the utility of mindfulness training in women with low self-control.

 

So, reduce low self-control drug use with mindfulness.

 

“though it may seem paradoxical, by increasing your ability to accept and tolerate the present moment, you become more able to make needed changes in your life. This is due to your learning to deal with uncomfortable feelings that might accompany modified behaviors, rather than reacting on automatic pilot. Also, practicing balanced emotional responses can reduce your stress level, and anxiety and stress are often triggers for substance abuse and addictive behavior. In addition, when you choose a neutral rather than a judgmental response to your thoughts and feelings, you can increase your sense of self-compassion rather than beating yourself up, which is often associated with addictive behaviors.” Adi Jaffe

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

RESEARCH NEWS –

 

Tarantino, N., Lamis, D. A., Ballard, E. D., Masuda, A., & Dvorak, R. D. (2015). Parent-Child Conflict and Drug Use in College Women: A Moderated Mediation Model of Self Control and Mindfulness. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62(2), 303–313. http://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000013

 

 

Abstract

This cross-sectional study examined the association between parent-child conflict and illicit drug use in a sample of female college students (N = 928). The mediating roles of self-control and mindfulness, as well as an interaction between self-control and mindfulness, were examined in a moderated mediation model for the purposes of expanding etiological theory and introducing targets for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse. Whereas deficits in self-control were found to facilitate the positive relation observed between parent-child conflict and the likelihood of experiencing drug-related problems, an interaction between mindfulness and self-control helped explain the association between parent-child conflict and intensity of drug-related problems. Parent-child conflict was related to low mindfulness when self-control was low, and low mindfulness in turn was related to a higher intensity of drug-related problems. This association did not exist for women with high self-control. Findings are consistent with developmental research on the etiology of drug use and the protective properties of mindfulness and self-control. Mindfulness as a potential target of intervention for drug users with low self-control to prevent drug-related problems is explored.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175297/