The Effects of Mindfulness Training on Children’s Attention Skills

  • Alice Wellum

Abstract

Introduction: Mindfulness Trainings (MT) have been shown to enhance participants’ attention skills by improving attention networks as well as supporting emotion regulation which may otherwise lead to distractions or biased attention. While research in adult populations shows promising results, only a few studies have examined the effects of MT in children. This investigation aims to address the gap in research by assessing the effects of mindfulness training for children at two schools (school 1: N=24, aged 9-12; school 2: N=63, age 8-11).Methods: Children were assessed on the Attention Network Task - Interference (ANT-I; N=91) and on an Attention Control Task (N=91). Furthermore, parents filled in questionnaires rating children’s executive functions. Measurements were assessed before and immediately after the 5-6-week training. School 1 MT group (N=12) was compared to an active reading control group (N=12), and school 2 MT group (N=24) was compared to an active reading control group (N=22) as well as a passive control group (N=21).Results: Performance on the ANT-I and on the Attention Control Task did not show a significant main effect for training group. In order to explore whether children’s emotional regulation improved attention, children’s performance was grouped in high and low emotional control group, which did not differ significantly pre- and post-test on main effects on ANT-I.Conclusion: While mindfulness trainings hold many promises in adult populations, this study was unable to show that mindfulness training in children enhances their attentional control. This may be due to the young age of the children or the relatively short period of MT. Further studies need to be conducted in order for sufficient conclusions to be drawn about the effects of mindfulness training with children. 
Published
2013-06-25
Section
Articles