- Mindful parenting in mental health care
- Volume | Issue number
- 1 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
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.
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