Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-dknvm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-23T02:39:14.629Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Mealtime Observations and Parent-Report: Correspondence Across Measurement and Implications for Intervention

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2015

Alina Morawska*
Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Michelle Adamson
Department of Psychology, Counselling and Community, University of Southern Queensland, Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia
Joanne Ferriol Especkerman
Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Address for correspondence: Alina Morawska, Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072, Australia. Email:
Get access


This study explored the relationship between self-reported and observed mealtime behaviour and examined concurrent predictors of observed child and parent mealtime behaviour. The sample consisted of 67 parents of 1.5- to 6-year-old children experiencing difficulties with their child's mealtime, and 33 parents who were not concerned with their child's mealtime behaviour. Parent-reported and observed mealtime data, and parent-reported mealtime cognitions were collected. Regression analyses indicated that consistent with hypotheses, observed and parent-reported mealtime behaviour were related. Observed child behaviour was predicted by self-reported parenting behaviour and observed positive parent behaviour, as well as parental cognitions. Observed parent behaviour was predicted only by self-reported parenting mealtime behaviour.

Standard Papers
Copyright © The Author(s) 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adamson, M., & Morawska, A. (2008). Parent and toddler feeding assessment. Unpublished manuscript, Parenting and Family Support Centre, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.Google Scholar
Adamson, M., & Morawska, A. (2014). The psychosocial correlates of difficult feeding. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
Adamson, M., Morawska, A., & Sanders, M.R. (2013). Childhood feeding difficulties: A randomized controlled trial of a group-based parenting intervention. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 34, 293302.Google Scholar
Adamson, M., Morawska, A., & Wigginton, B. (2015). Mealtime duration in problem and non-problem eaters. Appetite, 84, 228234.Google Scholar
Arnold, D.S., O'Leary, S.G., Wolff, L.S., & Acker, M.M. (1993). The Parenting Scale: A measure of dysfunctional parenting in discipline situations. Psychological Assessment, 5, 137144.Google Scholar
Bachmeyer, M.H. (2009). Treatment of selective and inadequate food intake in children: A review and practical guide. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 2, 4350.Google Scholar
Berlin, K.S., Davies, W.H., Lobato, D.J., & Silverman, A.H. (2009). A biopsychosocial model of normative and problematic pediatric feeding. Children's Health Care, 38, 263282.Google Scholar
Blissett, J., Meyer, C., Farrow, C., Bryant-Waugh, R., & Nicholls, D. (2005). Maternal core beliefs and children's feeding problems. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 37, 127134.Google Scholar
Borrero, C.S.W., Woods, J.N., Borrero, J.C., Masler, E.A., & Lesser, A.D. (2010). Descriptive analyses of pediatric food refusal and acceptance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 7188.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chavira, V., Lopez, S.R., Blacher, J., & Shapiro, J. (2000). Latina mothers’ attributions, emotions, and reactions to the problem behaviors of their children with developmental disabilities. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 245252.Google Scholar
Crist, W., & Napier-Phillips, A. (2001). Mealtime behaviors of young children: A comparison of normative and clinical data. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 22, 279286.Google Scholar
Davies, W.H., Satter, E., Berlin, K.S., Sato, A.F., Silverman, A.H., Fischer, E.A., & Rudolph, C.D. (2006). Reconceptualizing feeding and feeding disorders in interpersonal context: The case for a relational disorder. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 409417.Google Scholar
de Moor, J., Didden, R., & Korzilius, H. (2007). Parent-reported feeding and feeding problems in a sample of Dutch toddlers. Early Child Development and Care, 177, 219234.Google Scholar
Demir, D., Skouteris, H., Dell'Aquila, D., Aksan, N., McCabe, M.P., Ricciardelli, L.A., . . . Baur, L.A. (2012). An observational approach to testing bi-directional parent–child interactions as influential to child eating and weight. Early Child Development and Care, 182, 943950.Google Scholar
Douglas, J. (2000). Behavioural approaches to the assessment and management of feeding problems in young children. In Southall, A. & Schwartz, A. (Eds.), Feeding problems in children: A practical guide (pp. 4157). Cornwall, UK: TJ International Ltd.Google Scholar
Eyberg, S.M., & Pincus, D. (1999). Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory and Sutter-Eyberg Student Behavior Inventory — Revised: Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
Eyberg, S.M., & Robinson, E.A. (1982). Parent-child interaction training: Effects on family functioning. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 11, 130137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gardner, F. (2000). Methodological issues in the direct observation of parent-child interaction: Do observational findings reflect the natural behavior of participants? Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 3, 185198.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Greer, A.J., Gulotta, C.S., Masler, E.A., & Laud, R.B. (2008). Caregiver stress and outcomes of children with pediatric feeding disorders treated in an intensive interdisciplinary program. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 33, 612620.Google Scholar
Grusec, J.E., & Ungerer, J. (2003). Effective socialisation as problem solving and the role of parenting cognition. In Kucyzynski, L. (Ed.), Handbook of dynamics in parent-child relations (pp. 211228). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
Gueron-Sela, N., Atzaba-Poria, N., Meiri, G., & Yerushalmi, B. (2011). Maternal worries about child underweight mediate and moderate the relationship between child feeding disorders and mother–child feeding interactions. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 827836.Google Scholar
Hill, C., Maskowitz, K., Danis, B., & Wakschlag, L. (2008). Validation of a clinically sensitive, observational coding system for parenting behaviors: The Parenting Clinical Observation Schedule. Parenting: Science and Practice, 8, 153185.Google Scholar
Holden, G.W., & Buck, J.M. (2002). Parent attitudes toward child rearing. In Bornstein, M. (Ed.), Handbook of parenting (2nd ed., pp. 537562). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Hurley, K.M., Cross, M.B., & Hughes, S.O. (2011). A systematic review of responsive feeding and child obesity in high-income countries. The Journal of Nutrition, 141, 495501.Google Scholar
Janicke, D.M., Mitchell, M.J., & Stark, L.J. (2005). Family functioning in school-age children with cystic fibosis: An observation assessment of family interactions in the mealtime environment. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 30, 179186.Google Scholar
Johnson, R., & Harris, G. (2004). A preliminary study of the predictors of feeding problems in late infancy. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 22, 183188.Google Scholar
Koivisto, U.-K., & Sjoden, P.-O. (1996). Reasons for rejection of food items in Swedish families with children aged 2–17. Appetite, 26, 89103.Google Scholar
Lewinsohn, P.M., Holm-Denoma, J.M., Gau, J.M., Joiner, T.E. Jr., Striegel-Moore, R., Bear, P., & Lamoureux, B. (2005). Problematic eating and feeding behaviours of 36-month old children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 38, 208219.Google Scholar
Linscheid, T.R. (2006). Behavioral treatments for pediatric feeding disorders. Behavior Modification, 30, 623.Google Scholar
Locke, L.M., & Prinz, R.J. (2002). Measurement of parental discipline and nurturance. Clinical Psychology Review, 22, 895929.Google Scholar
McDermott, B.M., Mamun, A.A., Najman, J.M., Williams, G.M., O'Callaghan, M.J., & Bor, W. (2008). Preschool children perceived by mothers as irregular eaters: Physical and psychosocial predictors from a birth cohort study. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 29, 197205.Google Scholar
Morawska, A., Adamson, M., Hinchliffe, K., & Adams, T. (2014). Hassle Free Mealtimes Triple P: A randomised controlled trial of a brief parenting group for childhood mealtime difficulties. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 53, 19.Google Scholar
Morawska, A., & Sanders, M.R. (2007). Concurrent predictors of dysfunctional parenting and parental confidence: Implications for parenting interventions. Child: Care, Health & Development, 33, 757767.Google Scholar
Morawska, A., & West, F. (2013). Do parents of obese children use ineffective parenting strategies? Journal of Child Health Care, 17, 375386.Google Scholar
Mrdjenovic, G., & Levitsky, D.A. (2005). Children eat what they are served: The imprecise regulation of energy intake. Appetite, 44, 273282.Google Scholar
Nicholls, D., Christie, D., Randall, L., & Lask, B. (2001). Selective eating: Symptom, disorder or normal variant. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 6, 257270.Google Scholar
Orrell-Valente, J.K., Hill, L.G., Brechwald, W.A., Dodge, K.A., Pettit, G.S., & Bates, J.E. (2007). ‘Just three more bites’: An observational analysis of parents’ socialization of children's eating at mealtime. Appetite, 48, 3745.Google Scholar
Patterson, G.R. (1982). Coercive family process. Eugene, OR: Castalia Publishing Co.Google Scholar
Porter, C.L., & Hsu, H. (2003). First-time mothers’ perceptions of efficacy during the transition to motherhood: Links to infant temperament. Journal of Family Psychology, 17, 5464.Google Scholar
Sanders, M.R., Le Grice, B., & Turner, K.M.T. (1993). Mealtime Observation Schedule: An observer's manual (2nd ed.). Brisbane, Australia: Parenting and Family Support Centre, The University of Queensland.Google Scholar
Sanders, M.R., Patel, R.K., le Grice, B., & Shepherd, R.W. (1993). Children with persistent feeding difficulties: An observational analysis of the feeding interactions of problem and non-problem eaters. Health Psychology, 12, 6473.Google Scholar
Sanders, M.R., Turner, K.M.T., Wall, C.R., Waugh, L.M., & Tully, L.A. (1997). Mealtime behavior and parent-child interaction: A comparison of children with cystic fibrosis, children with feeding problems, and nonclinic controls. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 22, 881900.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Snyder, J., Reid, J., Stoolmiller, M., Howe, G., Brown, H., Dagne, G., & Cross, W. (2006). The role of behavior observation in measurement systems for randomized prevention trials. Prevention Science, 7, 4356.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Turner, K.M.T., Sanders, M.R., & Wall, C.R. (1994). Behavioural parent training versus dietary education in the treatment of children with persistent feeding difficulties. Behavior Change, 11, 242258.Google Scholar
Watkins, M.W., & Pacheco, M. (2000). Interobserver agreement in behavioral research: Importance and calculation. Journal of Behavioral Education, 10, 205212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, K.E., Hendy, H., & Knecht, S. (2008). Parent feeding practices and child variables associated with childhood feeding problems. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 20, 231242.Google Scholar
Wright, C.M., Parkinson, K.N., Shipton, D., & Drewett, R.F. (2007). How do toddler eating problems relate to their eating behavior, food preferences, and growth? Pediatrics, 120, e1069–1075.Google Scholar