Conflict and Negotiation With Preschoolers During Family Meals

Hannah B. Mudrick, Jackie A. Nelson, Molly Pylypciw, Shayla C. Holub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Family meals provide opportunities to observe a variety of social exchanges. This study examined the occurrence of conflict and negotiation during the understudied context of family meals, examining both mother-child and father-child interactions with children aged 3-5 (n = 65). We investigated differences in parents’ sensitivity and children’s affect based on the occurrence of conflict and negotiation. Results indicated conflict was common with both parents, but particularly with mothers. Negotiation occurred less often: half of the time with mothers and a third of the time with fathers. Mothers were less sensitive and children more negative when mother-child conflict occurred; mothers were more sensitive when fatherchild conflict occurred. Fathers were more responsive when father-child conflict occurred, but more intrusive when both mother-child and father-child conflict occurred. Mother-child negotiation was associated with responsive mothers; mothers were less negative when mother-child negotiation occurred in the absence of father-child negotiation. Findings provide a deeper understanding of family interactions between young children and parents during family meals. These interactional processes may be an essential ingredient to better understand how family meals affect young children’s health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-992
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 27 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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