Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Bax, Karen

2nd Supervisor

Friesen, Deanna


Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have shown to be effective in improving child and parent outcomes, including parental stress (Burgdorf et al., 2019; Friedmutter, 2016), child behaviour problems, and child executive functioning (Cheang et al., 2019; Donald et al., 2019; Dunning et al., 2019). The field of mindfulness has evolved to include parents and children together in programs, called parallel or concurrent parent and child MBIs. Children who have experienced adversity may be at a greater need for MBIs, as MBIs target stress and emotion regulation, areas where these children may need greater support (Bethell et al., 2016; Brenmer, 2003). As a newly emerging field, little is known about the feasibility of combining parent and child MBIs programs together.

The first study in this dissertation was a systematic review of the feasibility of concurrent parent and child MBIs using Bowen et al.’s (2009) model of feasibility as a guiding framework. The review found that most studies were conducted with children with neurodevelopmental disorders, with less studies exploring programs with youth with internalizing challenges, physical challenges, adversity, and general populations. Results further showed that concurrent MBIs appear to be acceptable and practical for most participants. Challenges with regular practice were noted across several studies. Limited information regarding implementation fidelity and facilitator responses were found.

The second study explored the preliminary outcomes associated with a concurrent parent and child MBI, the M3© program, on a sample of 97 parent-child dyads. Parent pre-to-post program reports on of child executive functioning, child behaviour problems, and parental stress were explored for statistical and clinical significance. Results showed statistically significant positive differences from pre-to-post program across all variables, except for one parent stress scale. These findings were not moderated by parent-reported levels of child adversity, although low rates of adverse experiences were reported. Clinically significant results were also found, where some participants moved in clinically meaningful, positive directions from pre-to-post program. Implications for current and future MBI researchers and clinicians, as well as limitations and next steps for this field of research are discussed.

Summary for Lay Audience

All individuals (including children, parents, partners, etc.) can struggle with managing their emotions, attention, and stress. Research has shown that mindfulness practice (i.e., non-judgmentally paying attention in the present moment) can help individuals regulate themselves (Guendelman et al., 2017) and better manage stress (Pascoe et al., 2017). Research has more recently studied these programs being delivered to parents and children at the same time, called concurrent or parallel mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), in order to help families integrate mindfulness concepts into the family environment. Ideally, the program helps both parents and children improve their stress and emotion regulation, leading to better quality interactions and eventually, relationships.

Although there is some research on these programs leading to positive changes for parents and youth, no research has investigated whether these programs are feasible for parents and youth. Feasibility examines areas such as whether the program is being implemented as it was planned to, whether participants attend the program, how participants are reacting to the program, and whether participants can practice the skills learned at home. The first study explored the feasibility of MBIs by summarizing the current research in the field and found that parents and youth attend programs and generally regard the programs positively. Yet, despite these positive views, many parents and youth report having difficulty implementing mindfulness into their daily lives.

The second study examined the outcomes of a concurrent MBI called the M3© program. The M3© program is an eight-week program for parents and children. The program targets children who have experienced adversity, as these children have increased risks of behaviour and emotion regulation challenges. Results found that parents rated their stress and their child’s behaviour problems and cognitive abilities as better after completing the program in comparison to their reports from before the program, and that these scores were not impacted by amount of child adversity experienced. Implications for future program development and evaluation are discussed.