Parenting and Independent Problem-Solving in Preschool Children With Food Allergy

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Abstract

Objective To examine autonomy-promoting parenting and independent problem-solving in children with food allergy. Methods 66 children with food allergy, aged 3–6 years, and 67 age-matched healthy peers and their mothers were videotaped while completing easy and difficult puzzles. Coders recorded time to puzzle completion, children’s direct and indirect requests for help, and maternal help-giving behaviors. Results Compared with healthy peers, younger (3- to 4-year-old) children with food allergy made more indirect requests for help during the easy puzzle, and their mothers were more likely to provide unnecessary help (i.e., explain where to place a puzzle piece). Differences were not found for older children. Conclusions The results suggest that highly involved parenting practices that are medically necessary to manage food allergy may spill over into settings where high levels of involvement are not needed, and that young children with food allergy may be at increased risk for difficulties in autonomy development.

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