Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychological Science (MSPS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Jody Nicholson

Second Advisor

Dr. Dawn Witherspoon

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange


The current study examined how shared family meals influence low negative behavior in children via parental perceived stress and parental self-efficacy in children between the age three and six. Using a parallel mediation analysis, multiple regression analyses were conducted for 204 participants. Results indicated parental perceived stress to be a mediator in the relationship of the structure of shared family mealtimes and negative child affectivity, in contrast parental self-efficacy was not. Additionally, interesting results were conveyed from exploratory Hypothesis 1. First, there were a total of 94 mothers and 102 fathers who completed the study. Significant correlations were depicted between participant age and the structure of shared family mealtimes, the total number of adults aged 18 and older in the household and problematic child behaviors, parental concern about child’s diet and how much of a problem it is for parents when children display problematic child behaviors, target child age and how much of a problem it is for parents when children display problematic child behaviors. In addition, two significant negative correlations were found between target child age and spousal stress related to child’s mealtime behaviors along with total number of children less than 6 years old and the use of food as a reward. Applying a developmental lens on research surrounding shared family mealtimes provides important implications as to how routines and parent-child interaction influence child behavior.