Negotiating food choice: parents’ perception of children’s eating behaviour

  • E. Mei-Li Roberts University of St Andrews
Keywords: children, parents, health, food, competence, negotiation


This article is based on a qualitative study exploring parents’ attitudes and perceptions of their role in their children’s eating habits in schools in Angus, Scotland. Parents believed they had different degrees of influence on their children’s eating habits. This article will examine these different perceptions of parental responsibility for children’s eating habits to explore how parents viewed their influence over their children’s food choices. I argue that although parents influence the degree of ‘choice’ that children have in their food choices, particularly ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ choices, children as competent decisionmakers, may not always choose to follow their parents’ choice but instead find ways to negotiate their own aims, needs and wishes for food choices, suggesting that decisions regarding food choices are part of a negotiated process between parent and child.