A Randomized Micro-trial of a Loving-Kindness Meditation to Help Parents Respond to Difficult Child Behavior Vignettes
In this study, Kirby and Baldwin conducted a small trial in Australia to examine the effect of LKM on parenting. A total of 61 parents with children between the ages of 2–12 were randomized to listen to a brief loving kindness meditation (LKM) or focused imagery (control condition) to see if any differences emerged on parental self-compassion, compassion towards others, and responses to six parenting vignettes. These written vignettes described situations where the parent had to make decisions regarding how to handle a child who was demonstrating challenging behaviors such as those above.
The results were promising. Parents demonstrated significantly greater compassion for themselves after listening to a LKM meditation and more positive (calm and sympathetic) and less negative emotional responses (frustration an angry) to children’s challenging behaviors in contrast to the control condition. However, parents exposed to the LKM recording did not show more compassion to others or any change in their imagined cognitive or behavioral responses to scenes of childhood behaviors. Parents generally liked completing the LKM and 60% said they would be interested to complete this meditation weekly. Larger trials are needed to confirm the impact of LKM on parenting compassion and parenting behaviors, involving perhaps more consistent exposure to LKM practice and real-life observation of parental behaviors.
The LKM recording from this study is now available. On MC4ME’s resources page, you can also find links to other mindfulness-based recordings on recommended apps and available downloads.
Link to the Kirby and Baldwin research and explore other MC4ME recommended research topics here.