Mealtime dynamics in child feeding disorder: the role of child temperament, parental sense of competence, and paternal involvement

J Pediatr Psychol. 2015 Jan-Feb;40(1):45-54. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsu095. Epub 2014 Nov 3.


Objective: We examined how child temperament, parental sense of competence, and paternal involvement predicted observed mealtime dynamics.

Method: 97 families of children with feeding disorder (FD), sleep problems (SP), and typically developing (TD) children participated in the study. Data were collected during home visits, where mother-child and father-child mealtime dynamics were videotaped and parents completed questionnaires.

Results: More mother-child and father-child conflict and control was observed during mealtimes in the FD than SP and TD groups. Among the FD group, maternal sense of competence was negatively correlated with mother-child conflict and control, and child temperament was linked to father-child conflict and control, but only for families in which fathers were highly involved. These correlations were not significant among the SP and TD groups.

Conclusion: Different patterns of results were seen for mothers and fathers and among the FD and control groups. Clinical implications for the treatment of FD are discussed.

Keywords: children; eating and feeding disorders; fatherhood; parenting.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders of Childhood / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Temperament*