Mindfulness training effects for parents and educators of children with special needs

Dev Psychol. 2012 Sep;48(5):1476-87. doi: 10.1037/a0027537. Epub 2012 Mar 12.


Parents and teachers of children with special needs face unique social-emotional challenges in carrying out their caregiving roles. Stress associated with these roles impacts parents' and special educators' health and well-being, as well as the quality of their parenting and teaching. No rigorous studies have assessed whether mindfulness training (MT) might be an effective strategy to reduce stress and cultivate well-being and positive caregiving in these adults. This randomized controlled study assessed the efficacy of a 5-week MT program for parents and educators of children with special needs. Participants receiving MT showed significant reductions in stress and anxiety and increased mindfulness, self-compassion, and personal growth at program completion and at 2 months follow-up in contrast to waiting-list controls. Relational competence also showed significant positive changes, with medium-to-large effect sizes noted on measures of empathic concern and forgiveness. MT significantly influenced caregiving competence specific to teaching. Mindfulness changes at program completion mediated outcomes at follow-up, suggesting its importance in maintaining emotional balance and facilitating well-being in parents and teachers of children with developmental challenges.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / rehabilitation
  • Behavior Control / methods*
  • Behavior Control / psychology
  • Behavioral Symptoms / etiology
  • Behavioral Symptoms / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / rehabilitation
  • Education, Special* / methods
  • Faculty*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / rehabilitation