Thursday, January 21, 2016


Mindfulness in parenting significantly reduces children's stress levels, according to a new study by Professor Lea Waters [pictured left], who holds the Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology and is the Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, at The University of Melbourne

Professor Waters said that child stress is becoming increasingly widespread with 31 per cent of Australian children feeling ‘very stressed,’ and 40 per cent feeling that they worry too much.

‘This stress and tension often leads to children having physical symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain and difficulty sleeping,’ Professor Waters said. ‘We know from past research that when a child is stressed they draw on their parents for support, and that their parents have the power to diminish or increase their children's stress levels. We now have strong evidence that children benefit when they're parents are more mindful of their emotions, and pause before they react with anger, stress or frustration.’

Professor Waters said mindfulness can aid emotional support by helping parents to regulate their own attention and emotion.

‘Mindfulness is more than just a “buzzword”. It's about being present and giving each task your full attention,’ said Professor Waters. ‘Taking the time to listen and understand your child's problems, promotes trust and emotional connection leading to a richer and more authentic relationship.

‘It also teaches children how to be open and aware of the whole situation including their own thoughts, feelings and sensations, which in turn makes them less stressed.’

Resource: Waters, L. ‘The Relationship between Child Stress, Child Mindfulness and Parent Mindfulness.’ Psychology, 2016, 7, 40-51. Published Online Jan 2016 in SciRes.

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