Parenting Styles, Parental Response to Child Emotion, and Family Emotional Responsiveness are Related to Child Emotional Eating

Child emotional eating is correlated with minimizing and non-reasoning, punitive parental responses, which are in line with authoritarian and permissive parenting styles but not authoritative styles.

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  • N: 450
  • Subject Ages: Children mean age of 7 years, female caregivers mean age of 34.3 years
  • Location: Not available
  • SES: Not available
  • Additional:
    • 79.4% of the mothers were married
    • 77.6% of European American descent
    • 93.3% had completed secondary education, 35.4% had completed a college degree
    • 96% of the female caregivers were biological mothers


  1. Authoritative parenting, family affective involvement and family affective responsiveness would be negatively related to child emotional eating.
  2. Authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting and minimizing and punitive responses to child emotion would be positively related to child emotional eating.

Variables Measured, Instruments Used

  • Emotional eating - the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ) utilizing the questionnaire format appropriate for young children
  • Parenting styles - the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire
  • Minimizing and punitive responses to child emotion - the punitive and minimizing subscales of the Coping with Children’s Negative Emotions Scale
  • Family affective responsiveness and involvement - two subscales from the McMasters Family Assessment Device

Design—Cross sectional



  1. Child emotional eating was significantly negatively correlated with authoritative parenting style and family affective responsiveness, and significantly positively correlated with minimizing response.
  2. Minimizing and punitive responses were significantly negatively correlated with affective responsiveness and involvement and with authoritative parenting style, and these response types were positively correlated with authoritarian and permissive parenting styles.
  3. Affective responsiveness and involvement were significantly related to authoritative parenting style and significantly negatively related to authoritarian and permissive parenting styles.
  4. Warmth and support and reasoning/induction were significantly correlated with child emotional eating but autonomy-granting was not.
  5. Non-reasoning, punitive responses were related to child emotional eating but physical coercion and verbal hostility were not.


  • Lack of father data and a cross-sectional design prevents the ability to draw conclusions or directions from the data.
  • The DEBQ has not had significant use with young children and is a self-report measure; therefore, caution should be used when interpreting the results.