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Habit has been defined as the automatic performance of a usual behaviour. The present paper reports the relationships of variables from a Model of Goal Directed Behavior to four scales in regard to parents’ habits when feeding their children: habit of (i) actively involving child in selection of vegetables; (ii) maintaining a positive vegetable environment; (iii) positive communications about vegetables; and (iv) controlling vegetable practices. We tested the hypothesis that the primary predictor of each habit variable would be the measure of the corresponding parenting practice.
Internet survey data from a mostly female sample. Primary analyses employed regression modelling with backward deletion, controlling for demographics and parenting practices behaviour.
Houston, Texas, USA.
Parents of 307 pre-school (3–5-year-old) children.
Three of the four models accounted for about 50 % of the variance in the parenting practices habit scales. Each habit scale was primarily predicted by the corresponding parenting practices scale (suggesting validity). The habit of active child involvement in vegetable selection was also most strongly predicted by two barriers and rudimentary self-efficacy; the habit of maintaining a positive vegetable environment by one barrier; the habit of maintaining positive communications about vegetables by an emotional scale; and the habit of controlling vegetable practices by a perceived behavioural control scale.
The predictiveness of the psychosocial variables beyond parenting practices behaviour was modest. Discontinuing the habit of ineffective controlling parenting practices may require increasing the parent’s perceived control of parenting practices, perhaps through simulated parent–child interactions.
Parents may influence children’s fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption in many ways, but research has focused primarily on counterproductive parenting practices, such as restriction and pressure to eat. The present study aimed to assess the association of diverse parenting practices to promote F&V and its consumption among pre-school children.
An exploratory analysis was performed on cross-sectional data from 755 Head Start pre-school children and their parents collected in 2004–5. Data included parent practices to facilitate child F&V consumption (grouped into five categories); parent-reported dietary intake of their child over 3 d; and a number of potential correlates. K-means cluster analysis assigned parents to groups with similar use of the food parenting practice categories. Stepwise linear regression analyses investigated the association of parent clusters with children’s consumption of F&V, after controlling for potential confounding factors.
A three-cluster solution provided the best fit (R2 = 0·62), with substantial differences in the use of parenting practices. The clusters were labelled Indiscriminate Food Parenting, Non-directive Food Parenting and Low-involved Food Parenting. Non-directive parents extensively used enhanced availability and teachable moments’ practices, but less firm discipline practices than the other clusters, and were significantly associated with child F&V intake (standardized β = 0·09, P < 0·1; final model R2 = 0·17) after controlling for confounders, including parental feeding styles.
Parents use a variety of parenting practices, beyond pressuring to eat and restrictive practices, to promote F&V intake in their young child. Evaluating the use of combinations of practices may provide a better understanding of parental influences on children’s F&V intake.
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