Parental self-compassion, attributions of child behaviour and sensitive responding
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Background/aims. Self-compassion is an approach of kindness towards the self; encompassing self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness (Neff, 2003b). It is thought to enable awareness that suffering is common within human experience, encouraging compassion for others. Parental sensitivity and attributions are considered to influence parent-child relationships and have been negatively associated with depression. This study aimed to explore associations between parent self-compassion, attributions of child behaviour and sensitive responding in recurrently depressed parents. Methods/participants. This was a correlational design using baseline data from a feasibility randomised controlled trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. The 38 participants had experienced recurrent major depressive episodes, were in remission and had at least one child between two and six years old. Self-compassion was measured by the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS; Neff, 2003b). Parent attributions of child behaviour were assessed by semi-structured interviews and rated using the Attributions Measure (S. Scott & M. Dadds, personal communication, 2009). Sensitivity was assessed using a parent-child observation task and rated by the Coding of Attachment-Related Parenting (Matias, Scott & O’Connor, 2006). Results. Findings show significant correlations between higher SCS total scores and external attributions of positive or negative valence. The SCS subscale self-judgement was significantly negatively correlated with sensitivity. Conclusion. In conclusion, higher self-compassion was positively associated with external attributions of child behaviour in either situation. Parents with higher levels of self-compassion also showed positive associations with sensitivity. These associations support current theories suggesting self-compassion could be positively associated with parenting. Areas for future research and clinical implications are considered.
Doctor of Clinical Psychology