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Michigan State University

Addressing Problem Behavior in Preschoolers

A new program looks to increase behavioral well-being in preschool age children and address mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, which affect one in six U.S. preschoolers.

The program, led by MSU College of Nursing researcher Jiying Ling, will begin with a pilot trial in February 2024 thanks to a National Institutes of Health grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. It will target 50 Head Start day care centers in urban and rural areas across Michigan and will focus on three components:

  • A school-based mindfulness program to equip preschoolers with knowledge and skills in mindful eating and movement (e.g., Yoga, breathing exercises).
  • A home-based mindfulness program to increase caregivers’ skills in practicing mindful eating, movement and arenting behaviors.
  • School learning and home practice connection initiatives to improve caregiver-preschooler relationships.

“This novel, timely and theory-driven food-body-mind intervention addresses the national emergency of mental health crises in early childhood,” said Ling, an associate professor in the college and assistant director of the doctoral program. “It has the potential to be scalable to day care programs across urban and rural settings nationally with long-term sustainability benefits.”

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