Mindful parenting is the process of bringing awareness and attention intentionally in a non-reactive and non-judgemental way to a child at any present moment. Parenting mindfulness is believed to influence parenting factors and parental psychological outcomes, child's emotional and behavioural outcomes, and family relationships. However, the efficacy of such interventions on interpersonal mindfulness in parenting and parenting behaviours has received minimal empirical attention.
This meta-analysis aims to quantitatively evaluate the efficacy of mindful parenting interventions on parenting mindfulness and parenting behaviours. Parenting stress, parents’ psychological wellbeing, interpersonal relationships, and child behavioural outcomes were examined secondarily. When meta-analysis was not possible (due to insufficient data in the included studies), the narrative approach was taken to present the findings.
A systematic review, meta-analysis, and narrative summary.
Six electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses) were systematically searched for articles in the English language from their respective dates of inception to December 2020. Studies involving clinical and non-clinical samples of parents with children or youths aged 24 years and below were included. Only randomised controlled trials were included. Studies were excluded if the mindfulness intervention did not focus on parenting skills training; that is, it focused on childbirth, stress reduction or incorporated other forms of therapy (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy). Data was synthesised using a random-effects model in RevMan 5.4. The outcomes of primary interest were parenting mindfulness and parenting behaviours. The secondary outcomes were parenting stress, parents’ psychological wellbeing, interpersonal relationships, and child behavioural outcomes.
Eleven studies representing 1,340 parents from six countries were included in the review. No evidence of intervention effect was found for overall parenting mindfulness and overall parenting stress. However, mindful parenting interventions demonstrated a moderate effect size when examining parenting mindfulness scores (standardised mean differences (d)=0.62, 95% CI: 0.11, 1.13, p=0.02) of parents with non-clinical samples of children. No intervention effect was found for overall parenting stress. Due to insufficient studies and data, findings on parenting behaviours, psychological wellbeing, relationships, and child behaviour were presented narratively.
Mindful parenting interventions are associated with higher parenting mindfulness scores for parents of typically developing children when compared with a control group. The limited studies and mixed results on positive parenting behaviours, parental psychological wellbeing, parental relationship with child and partner, and child behavioural outcomes serve as an impetus for further research.