Project Mind-Heart aims to increase our understanding of how a parent’s state of mind and their emotions can influence how they interact with their children as they play, solve problems, and work together. In our lab on campus, we are using randomized micro-trial frameworks to study how different forms of brief mindfulness inductions, for example, 10-minute Focused Attention or Loving Kindness meditations, influence parents’ physiology and behavior as they interact with their children. Our data are gathered using surveys, with equipment to measure parents’ and children’s heart rate and breathing, and by coding observations of parents and children’s affect and behavior. Project Mind-Heart extends the Parenting Young Children Project (PI: Dr. Erika S. Lunkenheimer), in which the families participated when the child was 2.5 to 4 years old, and allows us to learn how a parent’s relationship with their child changes over time.
Mindful Parent Observational Study
The primary goal of The Mindful Parent Observational Study is to observe the presence of mindfulness in real-time during parent-youth interactions. The observational data for this study were collected at three time points (i.e., pre-intervention, post-intervention, and follow-up) during the Mindfulness-enhanced Strengthening Families Program trial. MPOS is examining various aspects of a parent-youth interaction, including affect, posture, verbal content, and patterns of speaking and listening, and the connection between these observations and a parent’s degree and depth of mindfulness. It is helping us develop ways to “observe” mindful behavior and extend the measurement of mindful parenting beyond self-report. MPOS can also examine the benefits of mindful parenting as a result of skills taught in the MSFP in order to inform future family-based prevention and intervention efforts
The Mindfulness-enhanced Strengthening Families Program blended mindfulness activities for parents into the original Strengthening Families Program. Families with children ages 10-14 were randomly assigned to one of three groups: MSFP, SFP, or a home study control condition. Results showed MSFP was as effective as SFP in improving multiple dimensions of parenting, including interpersonal mindfulness in parenting, parent-youth relationship quality, youth behavior management, and parent well-being (based on both parent and youth reports at both post-intervention and one-year follow-up). This study also found that in some areas, MSFP boosted and better sustained the effects of SFP, especially for fathers.