Mindfulness-Based Parent Training: Strategies to Lessen the Grip of Automaticity in Families With Disruptive Children
Disagreements and conflicts in families with disruptive children often reflect rigid patterns of behavior that have become overlearned and automatized with repeated practice. These patterns are mindless: They are performed with little or no awareness and are highly resistant to change. This article introduces a new, mindfulness-based model of parent training and contrasts the model's assumptions with those of behavioral (operant) parent training. The new model informs 3 strategies to lessen the grip of automaticity in families with disruptive children: facilitative listening, distancing, and motivated action plans. The article does not oppose mindfulness to mindlessness or suggest that the former is always better than the latter but instead proposes that each is most useful at different times in the parenting process. I conclude by calling for empirical investigations of mindfulness-based parent training and, if those are successful, for the development of an integrated model that blends behavioral and mindfulness-based principles to inform all facets of intervention.