, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 238–248 | Cite as

The Effectiveness of a School-Based Mindfulness Training as a Program to Prevent Stress in Elementary School Children

  • Eva van de Weijer-Bergsma
  • George Langenberg
  • Rob Brandsma
  • Frans J. Oort
  • Susan M. BögelsEmail author


Studies on the effects of mindfulness interventions on mental health and behavioral problems in children show promising results, but are primarily conducted with selected samples of children. The few studies investigating school-based interventions used self-selected samples, provided training outside of the classroom, and did not report longer-term effects. The immediate and longer-term effects of a class-based mindfulness intervention for elementary school children were investigated as a primary prevention program (MindfulKids) to reduce stress and stress-related mental health and behavioral problems. Children (8–12 years) from three elementary schools participated. Classes were randomized to an immediate-intervention group (N = 95) or a waitlist-control group (N = 104), which received the intervention after a waitlist period. Twelve 30-min sessions were delivered in 6 weeks. At baseline, pretest, posttest, and follow-up, variables indicative of stress and metal well-being were assessed with children, variables indicative of mental health problems were assessed with parents, and teachers reported on class climate. Multilevel analysis revealed that there were no significant changes from baseline to pretest. Some primary prevention effects on stress and well-being were found directly after training and some became more apparent at follow-up. Effects on mental health problems also became apparent at follow-up. MindfulKids seems to have a primary preventive effect on stress, well-being, and behavior in schoolchildren, as reported by children and parents. Exploratory analysis revealed that children who ruminate more are affected differently by the intervention than children who ruminate less. It is concluded that mindfulness training can be incorporated in elementary schools at the class level, letting all children benefit from the intervention.


Mindfulness Attention training Elementary school Children Stress 



This study was funded by Stichting Fonds voor het Hart, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We would like to thank Maarten Willem Rijksen and Anne Pranger for their efforts in the collection of data for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva van de Weijer-Bergsma
    • 1
    • 2
  • George Langenberg
    • 3
  • Rob Brandsma
    • 3
  • Frans J. Oort
    • 1
  • Susan M. Bögels
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Research Institute of Child Development and EducationUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Pedagogical and Educational SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.MindfulKidsAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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