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Background: Mindfulness is the development of a nonjudgmental accepting awareness of moment-by-moment experience. Intentionally attending to one’s ongoing stream of sensations, thoughts, and emotions as they arise has a number of benefits, including the ability to react with greater flexibility to events and sustain attention. Thus the teaching of mindfulness-based skills to children and their carers is a potential means of improving family relationships and helping children achieve more positive developmental outcomes through increased ability to sustain attention and manage emotions. We provide a review of recent studies evaluating mindfulness-based interventions targeting children, adolescents, and families in educational and clinical settings.Method: Searches were conducted of several databases (including Medline, PsychINFO and Cochrane Reviews) to identify studies that have evaluated mindfulness-based interventions targeting children, adolescents or families published since 2009.Results: Twenty-four studies were identified. We conclude that mindfulness-based interventions are an important addition to the repertoire of existing therapeutic techniques. However, large-scale, methodologically rigorous studies are lacking. The interventions used in treatment evaluations vary in both content and dose, the outcomes targeted have varied, and no studies have employed methodology to investigate mechanisms of change.Conclusions: There is increasing evidence that mindfulness-based therapeutic techniques can have a positive impact on a range of outcome variables. A greater understanding of the mechanisms of change is an important future direction of research. We argue that locating mindfulness-based therapies targeting children and families within the broader child and family field has greater promise in improving child and family functioning than viewing mindful parenting as an independent endeavor.
High rates of child abuse and neglect occur in many families in which either or both parents abuse illicit drugs. This study reports on the results of a randomized controlled trial with families having a parent on methadone maintenance (N = 64), in which an intensive, home-based intervention, the Parents Under Pressure (PUP) program, was compared to standard care. A second brief intervention control group of families received a two-session parenting education intervention. The PUP intervention draws from the ecological model of child development by targeting multiple domains of family functioning including the psychological functioning of individuals in the family, parent–child relationships, and social contextual factors. Mindfulness skills were included to address parental affect regulation, a significant problem for this group of parents. At 3- and 6-month follow-up, PUP families showed significant reductions in problems across multiple domains of family functioning, including a reduction in child abuse potential, rigid parenting attitudes, and child behavior problems. Families in the brief intervention group showed a modest reduction in child abuse potential but no other changes in family function. There were no improvements found in the standard care group and some significant worsening was observed. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for improved treatment.