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24-06-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 8/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 8/2020

The Effects of Parental Emotion Regulation Ability on Parenting Self-Efficacy and Child Diet

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 8/2020
Sara J. Sagui-Henson, Laura Marie Armstrong, Alexis D. Mitchell, Cecily A. Basquin, Sara M. Levens
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10826-020-01745-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Child weight issues can be emotionally challenging for parents. The purpose of this study was to examine how parents’ ability to manage negative emotions may facilitate parenting self-efficacy and healthy parenting behaviors (e.g., providing healthy food for a child). In this study, parents (N = 159) of a child between the ages of 6–12 completed a health-specific parenting self-efficacy questionnaire and retrospectively reported their child’s daily servings of fruits and vegetables and sweets and soda. They also completed a parental emotion regulation task where they viewed film clips of families struggling with child weight challenges. During this task, parents managed their emotions by either positively reframing the situation to feel less negative (down-regulate negative emotions) or negatively reframing the situation to feel more negative (up-regulate negative emotions). We tested a mediation model examining the relations among parent emotion regulation, parenting self-efficacy, and child dietary habits. Results revealed that parents’ ability to down-regulate negative emotions was associated with lower parenting self-efficacy, which in turn was associated with greater sweets and soda consumption among children. In contrast, parents’ ability to up-regulate negative emotions was directly associated with lower sweets and soda consumption, regardless of parenting self-efficacy. Our findings have implications for healthcare practice and child weight interventions as they underscore the importance of helping parents consider the consequences of childhood obesity to encourage healthy eating behavior in families.

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