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The effectiveness of an 8-week mindfulness training for adolescents aged 11–15 years with ADHD and parallel Mindful Parenting training for their parents was evaluated, using questionnaires as well as computerized attention tests. Adolescents (N = 10), their parents (N = 19) and tutors (N = 7) completed measurements before, immediately after, 8 weeks after and 16 weeks after training. Adolescents reported on their attention and behavioral problems and mindful awareness, and were administered two computerized sustained attention tasks. Parents as well as tutors reported on adolescents’ attention and behavioral problems and executive functioning. Parents further reported on their own parenting, parenting stress and mindful awareness. Both the mindfulness training for the adolescents and their parents was delivered in group format. First, after mindfulness training, adolescents’ attention and behavior problems reduced, while their executive functioning improved, as indicated by self-report measures as well as by father and teacher report. Second, improvements in adolescent’ actual performance on attention tests were found after mindfulness training. Moreover, fathers, but not mothers, reported reduced parenting stress. Mothers reported reduced overreactive parenting, whereas fathers reported an increase. No effect on mindful awareness of adolescents or parents was found. Effects of mindfulness training became stronger at 8-week follow-up, but waned at 16-week follow-up. Our study adds to the emerging body of evidence indicating that mindfulness training for adolescents with ADHD (and their parents) is an effective approach, but maintenance strategies need to be developed in order for this approach to be effective in the longer term.
This study evaluated the effectiveness of an 8-week mindfulness training for children aged 8–12 with ADHD and parallel mindful parenting training for their parents. Parents (N = 22) completed questionnaires on their child’s ADHD and ODD symptoms, their own ADHD symptoms, parenting stress, parental overreactivity, permissiveness and mindful awareness before, immediately after the 8-week training and at 8-week follow-up. Teachers reported on ADHD and ODD behavior of the child. A within-group waitlist was used to control for the effects of time and repeated measurement. Training was delivered in group format. There were no significant changes between wait-list and pre-test, except on the increase of teacher-rated ODD behavior. There was a significant reduction of parent-rated ADHD behavior of themselves and their child from pre-to posttest and from pre- to follow-up test. Further, there was a significant increase of mindful awareness from pre-to posttest and a significant reduction of parental stress and overreactivity from pre-to follow-up test. Teacher-ratings showed non-significant effects. Our study shows preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness for children with ADHD and their parents, as rated by parents. However, in the absence of substantial effects on teacher-ratings, we cannot ascertain effects are due to specific treatment procedures.
Studies on the effects of mindfulness interventions on mental health and behavioral problems in children show promising results, but are primarily conducted with selected samples of children. The few studies investigating school-based interventions used self-selected samples, provided training outside of the classroom, and did not report longer-term effects. The immediate and longer-term effects of a class-based mindfulness intervention for elementary school children were investigated as a primary prevention program (MindfulKids) to reduce stress and stress-related mental health and behavioral problems. Children (8–12 years) from three elementary schools participated. Classes were randomized to an immediate-intervention group (N = 95) or a waitlist-control group (N = 104), which received the intervention after a waitlist period. Twelve 30-min sessions were delivered in 6 weeks. At baseline, pretest, posttest, and follow-up, variables indicative of stress and metal well-being were assessed with children, variables indicative of mental health problems were assessed with parents, and teachers reported on class climate. Multilevel analysis revealed that there were no significant changes from baseline to pretest. Some primary prevention effects on stress and well-being were found directly after training and some became more apparent at follow-up. Effects on mental health problems also became apparent at follow-up. MindfulKids seems to have a primary preventive effect on stress, well-being, and behavior in schoolchildren, as reported by children and parents. Exploratory analysis revealed that children who ruminate more are affected differently by the intervention than children who ruminate less. It is concluded that mindfulness training can be incorporated in elementary schools at the class level, letting all children benefit from the intervention.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation based on the Buddhist tradition, which has been used over the last two decades to successfully treat a multitude of mental health problems. Bringing mindfulness into parenting (“mindful parenting”) is one of the applications of mindfulness. Mindful parenting interventions are increasingly being used to help prevent and treat mental disorders in children, parenting problems, and prevent intergenerational transmission of mental disorders from parents to children. However, to date, few studies have examined the hypothesized mechanisms of change brought about by mindful parenting. We discuss six possible mechanisms through which mindful parenting may bring about change in parent–child interactions in the context of child and parent mental health problems. These mechanisms are hypothesized to be mediated by the effects of mindfulness on parental attention by: (1) reducing parental stress and resulting parental reactivity; (2) reducing parental preoccupation resulting from parental and/or child psychopathology; (3) improving parental executive functioning in impulsive parents; (4) breaking the cycle of intergenerational transmission of dysfunctional parenting schemas and habits; (5) increasing self-nourishing attention; and (6) improving marital functioning and co-parenting. We review research that has applied mindful parenting in mental health settings, with a focus on evidence for these six mechanisms. Finally, we discuss directions for future research into mindful parenting and the crucial questions that this research should strive to answer.