Maternal self-efficacy in mothers of children with and without clinical feeding problems
2017-06-22T16:00:24Z (GMT) by
The understanding of maternal factors associated with child feeding problems is limited due to a lack of research which has examined a comprehensive range of maternal factors and the existing literature focussing on a narrow range of ideas about the wider familial context in which feeding problems occur. The broad aim of this thesis is to investigate maternal parenting of children with and without clinical feeding problems to provide insights into the wider context in which feeding problems occur. In study 1, thematic analysis of interviews with 10 mothers of children with, and 10 mothers of children without, clinical feeding problems revealed that mothers of children with clinical feeding problems appeared to have less maternal self-efficacy for managing parenting challenges than mothers in the non-clinical group. A template analysis found that these perceptions seemed to be informed by four theoretical sources of self-efficacy: mastery experiences, verbal persuasion, vicarious experience and physiological state. In study 2, 278 mothers of children with and without clinical feeding problems completed existing self-report measures of maternal self-efficacy. It was found that lower levels of maternal self-efficacy for establishing structure and routine around instrumental child care tasks and for implementing discipline and setting limits for the child was predictive of problematic child feeding behaviour and maladaptive maternal responses to child feeding problems. In study 3, 215 mothers of children with and without feeding problems completed self-report measures of the theoretical components of self-efficacy (mastery experiences, verbal persuasion, vicarious experience, physiological state). Physiological state was found to be the strongest predictor of maternal self-efficacy for establishing structure and routines as well as for providing discipline and setting limits for the child. Maternal self-efficacy mediated the relationship between physiological state and problematic child feeding behaviour and the relationship between parenting stress and maladaptive maternal responses. The final study was a pilot study using autophotography. This study explored parenting dimensions and tasks which contributed towards perceptions of maternal self-efficacy in 13 mothers of children without clinical feeding problems. Findings suggested that child feeding was an especially difficult and complex task for mothers to manage, with many mothers reporting perceptions of low efficacy for managing mealtimes. This appeared to be due to the large number of health related concerns and the worry mothers felt when children did not eat a healthful diet. Overall, results of this thesis suggest that mothers who lack confidence in their ability to manage child behaviour report more problematic child feeding behaviours and use more maladaptive strategies for managing feeding problems. Findings of the studies in this thesis suggest that mothers of children with feeding problems, and who are experiencing high levels of stress, may be especially vulnerable to lower levels of maternal self-efficacy which may exacerbate difficulties. Increasing maternal self-efficacy for providing structure, routines and discipline in mothers experiencing feeding problems in their children may improve outcomes for those affected.