The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Child and Family Studies: Family Studies: M.S.


Child and Family Studies


School of Education

First Advisor

Jane Minnema

Second Advisor

Glen Palm

Third Advisor

Kathryn Mayhew

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Parent Education, Mindfulness, Automaticity, Resiliency, Parenting


The purpose of this thesis was to find effective mitigation strategies for common negative caregiver-child “automated” response patterns for families with high to average risk factors. The participants in this study included a convenience sample of 13 caregivers of preschoolers. This exploratory intervention research study used mixed methods to describe parental automated responses to their children's behavior through self-report. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected through demographic surveys that included open and closed items, pre- and post-study questionnaires, participant attendance and participation recordings, participant self- reporting in their home setting, field notes of self-reported progress in the caregiver discussion group, and an audio recorded semi-structured group discussion. Staged interventions requiring attendance included pre-study instruction, field discussions, and the final group interview; which were also designed as the means to acquire mindfulness skills as well as offered the benefits of group field discussion supports from peers and the parent educator. Study features included in-home daily Mindfulness Journaling and Action Plan Script practices.

Overall, the results of the study showed that either full or partial participation in study interventions offered perceived benefits in understanding of 1) child and adult development/ behavior, 2) the workings of emotional regulation/dysregulation and 3) in-turn practical implementation of mindfulness techniques to aid in reducing automatic responses between caregivers and their children. Participants reported the increased identification of triggering events and related thoughts, feelings, and physical responses, the creation of new mental scripts, as well as the selection of mindful calming techniques to offset triggered reactions. This study adds to the current literature in the area of enlisting caregivers as change agents in rewriting automatic response patterns through the use of mindfulness techniques learned in a discussion group with the guidance of a parent educator and peer supports, which resulted in a perceived reduction of negative effects between caregivers and the children in their care.