Using Mindfulness-Based Interventions to Support Self-regulation in Young Children: A Review of the Literature.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rise in stress, mental health concerns, and externalizing behaviors in children and their caregivers across the globe and illuminated the need to reduce stress levels and support self-regulation skills in even the youngest of children. The goal of this literature review is to describe what research has shown about the use of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) to support young children's self-regulation in early childhood settings. A total of 18 research studies conducted between 2010 and 2021 were identified. The main purposes of the studies reviewed were to examine the effects of MBIs on the development of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation. Results showed that teachers generally found mindfulness practices feasible, acceptable, and effective in their classrooms. Although MBIs were found to have mixed effects on self-regulation in young children, positive effects on self-regulation were significantly greater for children in need of additional support, including those with difficulties or delays in developing self-regulation skills. The current review found a wide variety of MBIs used in early childhood settings globally. The results of this review suggest that teaching mindfulness practices to young children and their caregivers can both support the development of self-regulation of young children and foster socially and emotionally healthy environments in which this development can occur.