Paws b research, findings and outcomes

Mindfulness training in primary schools decreases negative affect and increases meta-cognition in children

  • Authors: Vickery, C.E. and Dorjee, D. 
  • Published: 2016


This UK-based study reports the findings of a controlled feasibility pilot of Paws B, an 8-week mindfulness program for children aged 7-9 years. Seventy-one participants aged 7-9 years were recruited from three primary schools, with 33 children in the intervention group, and 38 in the control group who received their normal PSHE lessons. The program was delivered by teachers who were new to mindfulness and had only been learning it for 6 months and taught to their usual classes.  

The intervention group reported significant and large decreases in how often they experienced negative feelings, and increases in emotional regulation, compared with controls. Teacher reports on their perceptions of levels of meta-cognition on pupils also showed significant and large improvements at follow-up.

76% of children in the training group reported strongly ‘liking’ practising mindfulness at school. The more they liked it the more they were likely to want to continue practicing mindfulness at school. When asked if they would like to carry on doing mindfulness at school, 61% responded ‘yes,’ 33% responded ‘maybe,’ and 6.1% responded ‘no.’ Around 80% reported practising mindfulness at least ‘sometimes’, with 30% doing so ‘often’ and 9% ‘every day’.

What MiSP learned

  1. The research was groundbreaking as mindfulness research for pre-adolescents, and on metacognition, is rare.  
  2. There are often doubts expressed as to whether younger children benefit from formal mindfulness training or whether they are too young. This study suggests that Paws B goes down well with the majority of younger children, who enjoy it and engage in considerable amounts of practice after the course, and that it can significantly decrease negative feelings, and improve meta-cognition.
  3. The focus on meta-cognition expands the range of interest in the effects of mindfulness beyond the usual focus on mood and into the world of learning and cognition. This will be of great interest to all teachers and schools, not just those who are particularly concerned with mental health and wellbeing, and potentially puts mindfulness at the heart of learning. 
  4. Most previous studies on mindfulness in schools have involved experienced mindfulness trainers or teachers with considerable mindfulness practice experience. In this study the first time classroom teachers successfully delivered mindfulness training to their pupils after being trained in mindfulness 6 months earlier and as part of their normal teaching.

Discover more about the outcomes of mindfulness in education