Mindfulness and parenting

New paper just published on parents’ mindfulness and their food-related parenting behaviors in the journal Mindfulness:

Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., McKay, A., & Webb, H. J. (2019). Parents’ mindfulness, and child effortful control and negative affectivity are associated with food-related parenting Mindfulness. doi:10.1007/s12671-019-01219-2

Objectives: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.

Conclusions: Parent mindfulness and children negative affectivity and effortful control,
which we argued reflect reactivity and regulation, are 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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