Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review | 2019
Promoting Children’s Healthy Habits Through Self-Regulation Via Parenting
The prevalence of lifestyle-related disease worldwide is high and increasing. The majority of approaches that aim to prevent and manage these conditions target adults’ health behaviors; however, it is important to note that the foundations for long-term health are laid down in early childhood. This paper examines evidence for relationships between children’s self-regulation and short-, medium-, and long-term health outcomes. It further considers the role of child self-regulation in the development of healthy habits and examines evidence for intervention approaches that seek to upregulate children’s self-regulatory capacities. Parents may play a crucial role in the development of both self-regulation and health-promoting behaviors in childhood, and therefore, present a logical target for interventions aiming to improve child health outcomes. However, to date, very little is known about the mechanisms that underpin the relationships between parenting, child self-regulation and health outcomes. This paper proposes future research directions and identifies the potential contribution that parenting interventions could make to the international effort to halt the increasing prevalence of lifestyle-related disease.