While children adopted internationally show remarkable recovery once placed in families, as a group these children continue to show delays in certain aspects of development years after adoption. In particular, the area that seems to show the most lasting, and sometimes profound deficits is children’s self-regulation. The current study uses a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate the effects of mindfulness-based and executive function trainings on internationally adopted (IA) children’s self-regulation, including inhibitory control, attention, and emotion regulation. Seventy-two IA children ages 6-10 were randomized into Mindfulness training (MT), Executive Function training (EF), or no intervention (NI) groups. The MT and EF groups attended 12 one-hour group sessions. Children in both intervention groups showed fewer hyperactivity and attention problems and showed better emotion regulation in the classroom, as rated by teachers blind to group status. The EF training was more successful in improving inhibitory control, while the MT group may have improved in delay of gratification. Both interventions improved selective attention in children with poor baseline regulatory functioning. Parent-reported behavior did not significantly change in any domain. Contrary to expectations, the mindfulness intervention did not improve perspective taking skills or prosocial behavior. Implications and future directions are discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Child Psychology. Advisors: Megan Gunnar, Bonnie Klimes-Dougan. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 99 pages.
A Randomized-Controlled Trial of Mindfulness and Executive Function Trainings to Promote Self-Regulation in Internationally Adopted Children.
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