Youth are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and suicidality. The caregiver-child relationship provides an opportune context for modeling and encouraging self-compassionate responses to distress, an approach that could mitigate these trends. However, caregivers themselves are facing pandemic-exacerbated mental health challenges that can impact their ability to provide support. To address these issues, this study examines the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary outcomes of Self-Compassion for Children and Caregivers (SCCC), a group-based online program delivered to 20 caregivers and their child (ages 8-11) recruited from a racially and ethnically diverse elementary school community. In six-weekly one-hour sessions, dyads co-learn through activities designed to increase self-compassionate responding. Enrollment and attendance records, along with participant interviews, will be used to assess feasibility and modify the program to meet the needs of diverse families. Dyads will also complete pre and post program questionnaires and a standardized computer-based stress task to explore changes in mental and relational health, child physiologic stress reactivity, supportiveness of caregiving behaviors, and emotional responses to stress. Our long-term goal is to develop an accessible, culturally tailored, dyadic self-compassion program that addresses youth mental health and strengthens the caregiver-child relationship prior to the challenges of adolescence.

Ryan Herringa

University of Wisconsin, Madison


Christine Lathren

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill