Objectives: While mindfulness-based parenting programs (MPPs) are increasingly popular for reducing child behavior problems, the evidence for the advantages of MPP over existing behavioral parent training is unclear. Existing systematic reviews have largely excluded the breadth of MPP protocols, including those that integrate behavioral skills components. Therefore, a scoping review was conducted to map the nature and extent of research on MPPs for parents of children aged 3 to 12 years with behavioral problems.
Methods: PRISMA-ScR guidelines were used to conduct an encompassing peer literature review of cross-disciplinary databases. Studies were included if they reported mindfulness interventions for parents of children aged between 3 and 12 years with externalizing behavior problems and had an outcome measure of child behavioral problems that could be represented as an effect size. Randomized controlled trials as well as quasi-experimental, pre-post studies and unpublished dissertations were included.
Results: Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria (N = 1362). The majority of MPPs delivered mindfulness adapted to parenting based on the Bögels' protocol within clinical settings. There was a dearth of fully integrated mindfulness and behavioral programs. MPPs generally produced pre-to-post-intervention improvements with small effect sizes across child behavior and parent style, stress, and mindfulness measures. Examining longer follow-up periods compared to pre-intervention, effects reached a moderate size across most outcome measures.
Conclusions: MPPs continue to show promise in improving child behavior and parental mindfulness, well-being, and style. Further research is needed to determine how to best leverage the advantages of mindfulness in augmenting the well-established effectiveness of behavioral programs.