Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Kristoffer Berlin

Committee Member

Robert Cohen

Committee Member

Idia Thurston

Committee Member

Randy Floyd


Early childhood is a critical period for the development of healthy eating behavior. This study aimed to examine how mothers behaviors during an eating scenario align with evidence-based parenting skills (e.g., Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) skills) and to determine how these skills influence childrens eating. This study observationally coded videos of dyadic parent-child interactions for 50 mothers and 50 children (ages 4 to 7 years old) from a primarily low-income population using Noldus Observer XT software. It examined interactions during a structured eating task (e.g., taste testing of foods) by first, applying and modifying the PCIT coding scheme to determine if these skills are applicable during an eating situation; and by second, using lag sequential analysis to assess how use of Do and Dont skills [associated with two phases of PCIT: 1) Child-Directed Interaction (CDI) skills, and 2) Describe, Approach, Direct command, and Selective attention (DADS) skills], related to the childs eating behavior. This study established the feasibility of applying and coding PCIT skills in an eating scenario with a few modifications. When examining all antecedent-consequences of interest, a CDI and DADS Do skill was more likely to be followed by child eating. Looking at just bites of food, children were more likely to eat in response to a CDI and DADS Do skill rather than a Dont skill. Lastly, when examining how children respond to Do skills, children were more likely to eat following a DADS Do skill, rather than engage in other behavior; however, this was not significant for the CDI model, suggesting that the unique features of DADS skills are more effective at encouraging eating relative to other behavior when compared to CDI skills. This study used novel methodology and expands prior work around dyadic interactions during eating scenarios. Our findings demonstrate that PCIT Do skills encourage eating and may help children overcome food neophobia and increase consumption of a variety of healthy foods.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest