Can mindfulness reduce the gap in executive function skills of preschoolers? A randomized controlled trial

Reka Kassai, Judit Futo, Zsofia K. Takacs

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: Children with disadvantaged socioeconomical status (SES) show lower levels of executive function (EF) skills as compared to children from higher SES (Lawson, 2016). According to recent meta-analytic results mindfulness interventions are the most effective approach for promoting these skills of typically developing children (Takacs & Kassai, 2019). Based on these findings we assume that teaching mindfulness to young children in a preschool setting can be an effective way in reducing the cognitive disadvantage of low SES children.

Method: We developed an academic year-long, child-friendly mindfulness program in which mindfulness practices are imbedded into a story framework. 90 children were recruited from four preschools with diverse SES in Hungary who were randomly assigned into an intervention and an active control group. The groups were matched based on age, gender, EF skills and cortisol levels at the time of the pre-test. The intervention group took part in weekly 30-minute-long mindfulness sessions, 20 sessions in total, while the control group participated in 30-minute regular play time activity sessions.

Results and discussion: Mindfulness was found to be effective in promoting inhibitory control (F(4,98)=2.59, p=.04) and cognitive flexibility skills (F(4,96)=2.41, p=.06), but only in case of low SES children. However, no effect was found on working memory. At the same time, reaction time data on the inhibition and flexibility tests suggest that, following the intervention, low SES children responded in a slower manner which might have caused the positive change observed in their response accuracy. This result supports the idea that reducing impulsive responses by teaching some kind of “stop and think” strategy during mindfulness training can be an effective way of supporting the cognitive performance of low SES children.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2021
EventSRCD Biennial Meeting 2021 -
Duration: 7 Apr 20219 Apr 2021
https://www.srcd.org/event/srcd-2021-biennial-meeting

Conference

ConferenceSRCD Biennial Meeting 2021
Period7/04/219/04/21
Internet address

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