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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2019, Vol. 51 Issue (3) : 324-336     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00324
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Mindfulness training can improve 3-and 4-year-old children’s attention and executive function
LI Quan,SONG Yanan,LIAN Bin,FENG Tingyong()
Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing, 400715, China
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Abstract  

Mindfulness is a technique that alleviates the suffering of the yogi and implements self-awareness. Previous studies found that mindfulness training can improve work efficiency, emotional regulation, attention, and executive function. However, it is still unknown whether mindfulness training can improve attention and executive function in preschool children. This study sought to investigate the effect of mindfulness training for younger children to improve attention and executive function performance.
The present study attempted to use a 2 (group: mindfulness training vs no-training) × 2 (test time:pre vs post) between-and-within-subjects design to investigate the effect of mindfulness training on improving 3-and 4-year-old children’s attention and executive function. The mindfulness training consisted of 12 sessions, with 20~30 minutes per session, and was held twice a week for two months involving 6 preschoolers at a time. The children were assigned to two groups, mindfulness group (N = 26, age range from 41.69 months to 51.42 months, SD = 1.12 months) and control group (N = 26, age range from 41.98 months to 53.98 months, SD = 3.60 months). In the mindfulness training group, the instructor guided children to perform activities of mindfulness, while children in the No-training group were given normal activities. In the study, the mindfulness training course consisted of three parts. Part 1 was “breath and attention” that children learned to master belly breathing and focused attention on specific sensory. Part 2 was “body perception and movement” that children gained balance awareness and body coordinates. Part 3 was “awareness of mental activity” that children learned to relax and perceive each body part. Children’s attention was measured before and after training using an attention task (e.g. Finding Animals Test), and three components of executive function were measured before and after training using three classic tasks (e.g. Inhibition Control: Peach Flower Heart Task, Cognitive Flexibility: Dimensional Change Card Sort Task (DCCS) and Working Memory: WPPSI-VI’s Picture Memory Test).
To investigate whether mindfulness training can enhance children’s attention and executive function, we performed 2 (group: mindfulness training vs no-training) × 2 (test time: pretest vs posttest) repeated measures ANOVA. The results revealed that the interaction between group and test time was significant. An analysis of simple effects further indicated that in the pretest there was no significant effect between mindfulness training group and no-training group. In the posttest, the attention and two components of executive function performances (inhibition control and cognitive flexibility) improved significantly in mindfulness group, while no significant differences were found on attention and three components of executive function in no-training group. The results supported the usefulness of mindfulness training to enhance children’s performances on attention and executive function.
In conclusion, our results suggested the positive effects of mindfulness training on two components of executive function (inhibition control and cognitive flexibility) and attention in preschool children. The results provided important theoretical and practical implications for 3-and 4-year-old children’s attention and executive function.

Keywords mindfulness training      3-and 4-year-old children      attention      executive function     
ZTFLH:  B844.1  
Corresponding Authors: Tingyong FENG     E-mail: fengty0@swu.edu.cn
Issue Date: 22 January 2019
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Quan LI
Yanan SONG
Bin LIAN
Tingyong FENG
Cite this article:   
Quan LI,Yanan SONG,Bin LIAN, et al. Mindfulness training can improve 3-and 4-year-old children’s attention and executive function[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(3): 324-336.
URL:  
http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00324     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2019/V51/I3/324
  
  
  
  
  
组别 注意力 抑制控制 认知灵活性 工作记忆
前测 后测 前测 后测 前测 后测 前测 后测
正念组 12.04 (7.10) 21.73 (5.59) 0.74 (0.16) 0.92 (0.10) 0.71 (0.16) 0.92 (0.08) 14.00 (5.39) 18.14 (5.64)
对照组 13.42 (8.27) 18.27 (6.51) 0.73 (0.17) 0.74 (0.14) 0.63 (0.22) 0.76 (0.18) 14.38 (4.85) 16.38 (5.38)
  
  
  
  
  
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