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Mindfulness Training in Primary Schools Decreases Negative Affect and Increases Meta-Cognition in Children

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JournalFrontiers in Psychology
DatePublished - 12 Jan 2016
Volume6
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Studies investigating the feasibility and impact of mindfulness programs on emotional well-being when delivered by school teachers in pre-adolescence are scarce. This study reports the findings of a controlled feasibility pilot which assessed acceptability and emotional well-being outcomes of an 8-week mindfulness program (Paws b) for children aged 7-9 years. The program was delivered by school teachers within a regular school curriculum. Emotional well-being was measured using self-report questionnaires at baseline, post-training and 3 months follow-up, and informant reports were collected at baseline and follow-up. Seventy one participants aged 7-9 years were recruited from three primary schools in the UK (training group n = 33; control group n = 38). Acceptability of the program was high with 76% of children in the training group reporting 'liking' practicing mindfulness at school, with a strong link to wanting to continue practicing mindfulness at school (p < 0.001). Self-report comparisons revealed that relative to controls, the training group showed significant decreases in negative affect at follow-up, with a large effect size (p = 0.010, d = 0.84). Teacher reports (but not parental ratings) of meta-cognition also showed significant improvements at follow-up with a large effect size (p = 0.002, d = 1.08). Additionally, significant negative correlations were found between changes in mindfulness and emotion regulation scores from baseline to post-training (p = 0.038) and baseline to follow-up (p = 0.033). Findings from this study provide initial evidence that the Paws b program in children aged 7-9 years (a) can be feasibly delivered by primary school teachers as part of the regular curriculum, (b) is acceptable to the majority of children, and

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