A large and compelling body of research demonstrates the powerful impacts family environments can play on the growth and development of children. Family environments charactised by warmth, security and positive parenting can help with positive childhood growth. Conversely family environments characterised by hostility, criticism, and abuse often lead to difficulties with mental illness. Research at the Compassionate Mind Research Group (CMRG) at the University of Queensland has been focusing on ways in which a compassionate approach can be applied to the family unit in order to help support and facilitate mental health and wellbeing. The research team have been investigating how parenting motivations (self-image and compassionate-focused goals) and fears of compassion are associated with greater reactive parenting styles (coercive, punitive), levels of parental shame, and levels of childhood social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties. As a result the research group have established a compassionate mind approach to parenting, which is embedded in integrated approach including evolutionary models, attachment, and affective neuroscience science. The application of compassionate mind approaches will be discussed, specifically how it can be integrated with existing evidence-based parenting programs. The results from these first randomised controlled trials applying a compassionate mind approach to parenting will be presented. Based on our research to date, we will provide a series of recommendations to improve the science underpinning a compassionate mind approach to parenting.

In Australia, governments have adopted and rolled-out evidence-based parenting programs (EBPPs) as part of social policy, allowing free access to EBPP for parents in order to help treat and prevent childhood disorders. We will outline how a compassionate mind approach can be integrated with an existing EBPP (The Triple P-Positive Parenting Program), and thus be delivered as part of service delivery.