This study sought to establish four aspects of feasibility for a mindful parenting program: demand for the program from parents with concerns regarding their child’s internalizing problems, acceptability of the program to those parents, preliminary efficacy, and the likelihood of successful expansion of the program to the intended population.
The study was a pilot, randomized controlled trial comparing a mindful parenting program to waitlist. Participants were parents (N = 25) of children aged 3–18 years, with self-reported concerns regarding their child’s internalizing problems, recruited from the community. Demand was assessed using recruitment and adherence rates. Acceptability was assessed using parent-reported usefulness. Preliminary efficacy was assessed using parent reports of child internalizing problems, mindful parenting, parenting stress, cognitive emotion regulation, parental experiential avoidance, and parent beliefs about child anxiety. Intervention group parents also provided weekly in-session data on coping in stressful parenting situations. The likelihood of successful expansion was assessed using qualitative feedback on whether and how the program had helped parents manage child internalizing problems, particularly anxiety.
Feasibility was established for the four aspects assessed. The program was well-attended and acceptable to parents. Moderate to large effects were found in favor of the intervention group for most parent and child outcomes. Weekly data showed improved coping in difficult parenting situations. Qualitative feedback suggested that parents believed that increased acceptance and empathy had helped them cope with child internalizing problems.
Mindful parenting programs may assist parents of children with internalizing problems to manage parenting stress and emotionally regulate themselves, even in difficult parenting moments. They may also reduce child internalizing problems, through improved parental emotion regulation, and greater acceptance of and empathy for their child.
Australian Clinical Trials Registry, registration number ACTRN12620000690954