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20-08-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER

The Food-Related Parenting Context: Associations with Parent Mindfulness and Children’s Temperament

Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck, Anna McKay, Haley J. Webb
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There were two objectives of this study. The first was to determine whether parents’ dispositional mindfulness was associated with food-related parenting, including more support and structure and less coercion and chaos. The second was to consider children’s temperament and food-related parenting, with a focus on reactivity and regulation. Parents’ beliefs and concerns about body and child weight and demographic factors were also considered.


Caregivers of children aged 4–8 years (N = 167, 94% female) completed measures of food-related parenting, dispositional mindfulness, children’s temperament (surgency, negative affectivity, and effortful control), parents’ concern about child’s weight, and parents’ body dissatisfaction. Parents also reported their children’s age, gender, family income, and education.


As hypothesized, parents higher in mindfulness reported more food-related supportiveness and structure and less food-related coerciveness and chaos; most associations were significant even after accounting for children’s temperament and all other measures. For temperament, children’s effortful control was associated with higher levels of parent supportiveness and structure, whereas negative affectivity was positively associated with coerciveness and chaos. Although parents’ body dissatisfaction and concerns about their children’s weight were usually correlated with food-related parenting, few associations remained significant in the multivariate models. Children’s surgency and demographic factors were not associated with food-related parenting.


Parents’ mindfulness and children’s negative affectivity and effortful control, which we argued reflect reactivity and regulation, were uniquely associated with parents’ food-related supportiveness, structure, coerciveness, or chaos. Future research should examine bidirectional pathways to better isolate the direction of effects and pinpoint potential intervention targets.

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