Promoting Children’s Healthy Habits Through Self-Regulation Via Parenting

  • Sabine BakerEmail author
  • Alina Morawska
  • Amy Mitchell


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.


Child health Self-regulation Parenting Healthy habits Child routines 



This work was funded by the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Discovery Projects scheme (Grant No. DP140100781), and the Children’s Hospital Foundation Early Career Fellowship (award ref. 50223).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The Parenting and Family Support Centre is partly funded by royalties stemming from published resources of the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program, which is developed and owned by The University of Queensland (UQ). Royalties are also distributed to the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences at UQ and contributory authors of published Triple P resources. Triple P International (TPI) Pty Ltd is a private company licensed by UQ, to publish and disseminate Triple P worldwide. The authors of this paper have no share or ownership of TPI. Dr Morawska receives royalties from TPI. TPI had no involvement in the writing of this report. Drs Baker, Morawska and Mitchell are employees at UQ.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of PsychologyThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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