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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Use of a mindfulness practice to decrease problem behaviour and increase engaged time of three students in an elementary school setting Shababi Shad, Sara


Mental health problems in children and adolescents can impair functioning at home, in school, with peers and in the community. Children and youth with a mental illness tend to engage in problem behaviour in the classroom. Research has shown that self-management strategies are cost effective and practical ways to improve academic performance and reduce problem behaviour. Mindfulness is a self-management strategy and is defined as the awareness that emerges through intentionally and nonjudgmentally paying attention in the present moment. Meditation on the Soles of the Feet is an example of a mindfulness practice that enables an individual to divert his or her attention and awareness from an anxiety or anger-provoking situation to a neutral part of the body. This research study replicates and extends recent studies investigating the effectiveness of this practice. The mindfulness practice was augmented by a functional assessment to individualize the intervention for each participant. The participants were three elementary school-aged children who frequently engaged in disruptive and off-task behaviour. The study was conducted in each student’s classroom and two additional non-classroom settings. A concurrent multiple baseline design across participants was employed. Intervention data for the first student showed a reduction in problem behaviour and an increase in engaged time. Intervention data are not available for the second and third students, and, as a result, a functional relation was not documented. A social validity measure was administered once to the first student, his teacher and his mother. Social validity ratings indicated that the mindfulness practice’s goals, procedures and outcomes were viewed as socially valid. It is anticipated that results for the second and third students will demonstrate, as well, a decline in problem behaviour and an increase in engaged time in classroom and non-classroom settings.

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