Emotional overeating fed by temperament, caregivers’ reactions to children’s emotions

Sehyun Ju, Kelly Bost, and Samantha Iwinski standing in a living room setting
From left: Sehyun Ju, Kelly Bost, and Samantha Iwinski. Credit: Fred Zwicky.

Managing a fussy infant or a determined toddler can be a daily test of patience and endurance for parents and caregivers. New research on the origins of emotional overeating in 3-year-olds suggests that how caregivers respond to infants’ and toddlers’ negative emotions such as disappointment, fear and anger influences the children’s development of emotional overeating.

Researchers in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign followed more than 350 children from birth to age 3 and found direct associations between infants’ temperaments and their development of emotional overeating at age 3. However, caregivers’ supportive and non-supportive responses to the children’s negative emotions had significant influence as well.

Story Source(s)