The role of family communication and parents' feeding practices in children's food preferences
This study used Family Communication Patterns Theory (FCPT) to explore how familydinner-related communication takes place and how parents’ feeding practices may be associated with children’s preferences for dinner meals. The sample consisted of 12 dyads with seven- and eight-year-old Norwegian children and their parents. In-depth photo interviews were used for collecting data. Interview transcripts and photographs were examined through content analysis. Results indicated that most families were conversation oriented, and communication tended to shift from consensual during weekdays to pluralistic at weekends. On weekdays, the dinner menu was often a compromise between children’s preferences and parents’ intentions to provide quick, healthy dinner options for the family. To a greater extent at weekends, children were allowed to choose dinner alternatives for the entire family. Restriction of unhealthy dinner alternatives was the practice most used to control children’s diets and, in fact, might explain children’s high preferences for unhealthy dinner alternatives. Results underline the importance of giving children control of what they eat and being responsive to children’s preferences while guiding them towards healthy dinner alternatives rather than using force and restriction. From a more theoretical perspective, this study explored how FCPT could be combined with theories about parents feeding practices to understand meal preferences and choices among young children and their families, and how time and situation (context) influence families’ communication patterns and feeding practices in their homes.
This is the accepted manuscript version. Published version at http://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.02.002