In this 8-week randomized controlled trial, a mindfulness intervention program improved attention, positive emotionality, and social orientation in children ages 9–11.
Mindfulness-based interventions represent the central teaching of Buddhist practice. According to J. Kabat-Zinn (a well-known meditation teacher who developed the mindfulness-based stress-reduction program), mindfulness is the process of paying particular attention, on purpose, to the present moment, and in a nonjudgmental manner. Mindfulness-based interventions involve several components, such as breathing awareness practice, working with thoughts and emotions, awareness practices of senses and daily life, etc. Mindfulness-based interventions can improve mental health and well-being in adults. Do these findings translate to children?
In this 8-week randomized controlled trial, 41 children (ages 9–11) in Italy were assigned to a mindfulness intervention program or a control group following daily routine school activities. The mindfulness intervention program consisted of group sessions of 60 minutes per week and featured mindful eating practice, mindfulness exercises involving “paying attention to here and now”, breath-based practices, body scan exercises, and walk practice.
The primary outcome was change in temperament measured using the Italian Questionnaires of Temperament (QUIT). The questionnaire consisted of 54 items divided into six dimensions: inhibition to novelty, attention, motor activity, social orientation, positive emotionality, and negative emotionality. The secondary outcomes were anxiety and depression measured using the Test for Anxiety and Depression in Childhood and Adolescence (TAD).
Compared to the control, the mindfulness program improved social orientation, positive emotionality, and attention and reduced inhibition to novelty and negative emotionality.
With respect to secondary outcomes, the mindfulness program decreased anxiety compared to baseline, but the change was no different from the control. There was no change in depression symptoms.
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