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The article A Randomized Trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children: Promoting Mindfulness Attention to Enhance Social-Emotional Resiliency in Children of Child and Family Studies is published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. It was released on August 27, 2009, in volume number 19. MBCT, children, emotion control, attention, and anxiety are some of the buzzwords.
According to the literature, too much stress hinders a child's capacity to learn and advance academically. Physiological hyperarousal, emotional lability, cognitive distortions, and biases in attention are the main effects of stress. According to current studies, mindfulness-based psychotherapies are becoming more and more popular. There is, however, limited information on how mindfulness techniques affect attention. It has been established that mindfulness-based therapies are effective in reducing stress, depressive, anxiety symptoms in adults, but researchers are beginning to explore the effectiveness, feasibility, and acceptability of this approach for children. Such a situation creates the need for this research which is also an intervention for children with anxiety and attention and problems.
This study is an example of applied research since it is a practical application of science. It accesses and applies the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children. It is also a qualitative research due to its exploratory nature. Hence, it is also a means of gaining an understanding of motivations, opinions, and underlying reasons in regards to increasing children`s social-emotional resiliency through enhancing careful attention. Consequently, it offers more insight and helps to develop ideas for quantitative research. This manualized group psychotherapy for children between 9–13 years is a longitudinal research since it gathers data for a given population over a specified time. The randomized cross-lagged design included a wait-listed control group, a second trial, and a follow-up period.
The research was testing the hypotheses that children randomized to participate in MBCT-C would present greater reductions in anxiety symptoms, behavior problems, and attention problems, than gender-matched controls and wait-listed age.
The study involved 25 English speaking children between the age of 9 and 13 who enrolled in a remedial reading tutoring program. The participants, ten boys and 15 girls from the African American, Caucasian, and Latino community represented the inner-city children who struggle with academic problems causing too much anxiety that interferes with their ability to study and progress academically.
A power analysis was preferred in determining the appropriate number of participants to detect significant differences in the mean groups. The participants were matched according to their age and gender, and later randomly assigned to an independent group. The method of randomization was concealed from both the staff and before the recruitment. The process consisted of four groups, A to D. Children between the age of 9 and10 belonged to groups A and C while those between ages 11 and 13 belonged to groups B and D. The total number of children in each group was six or seven.
A randomized cross-lagged design was used to provide the study with a wait-listed control group, a second trial, and a 3-month follow-up of participants who completed the initial test. The randomized cross-lagged model is a structural equation model used where more than one variable are measured at many occasions and interest is well centered on the associations with each other over time.
Cross-lagged designs are widely applicable in the analysis of data collected more than once on the same participants over a specified period. As observed in this research, the model can be used to provide evidence regarding the causality direction between different variables.
Results indicate that MBCT-C is a divine intervention to tackle behavior and attention problems, and may reduce anxiety symptoms in children.
Measures introduced in the design included the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children (STAIC), and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). MASC is a 39-point self-report inventory for persons between the age of 8 and 19. The items of MASC ask about anxiety-related actions, feelings, and thoughts rated on a scale of 4. MASC also contains an inconsistency index that also measures the score of validity. STAIC, a 40-item self-report questionnaire assesses anxiety in children in grades four to six. STAIC has established reliability and validity for children in elementary-school. CBCL obtains multi-axial data on behavioral and emotional problems, and academic and social competencies, in children. It is a well-standardized behavioral inventory with good validity and reliability.
This study illustrates that MBCT-C is an effective strategy in reducing problems affecting the attention of children. It indicates that behavior problems and anxiety symptoms in children with clinically elevated levels of stress can be managed. The findings produce promising results for the treatment of childhood behavior problems, but there is a need for its replication with a larger sample. Limitations of the study are a lack of treatment adherence measures or objectives, small sample size, and non-generalizability to populations that are more severely depressed.
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