Parenting Resources

Sensitive or Responsive Parenting for Elementary Age Children

Feeding practices Studies have evaluated the relationship between parenting styles and childhood obesity.  A systematic research review in 2015 found, “ Uninvolved, indulgent or highly protective parenting was associated with higher child BMI, whereas authoritative parenting was associated with a healthy BMI. Similarly for feeding styles, indulgent feeding was consistently associated with risk of obesity within cross-sectional studies.”  (Shloim N, et al.  Parenting Styles, Feeding Styles, Feeding Practices, and Weight Status in 4 – 12 Year-Old Children:  A Systematic Review of the Literature.  Frontiers in Psychol.  2015; 14;6:1849.

 This review serves as an encouragement for parents to be sensitive to their children’s needs, especially nutritionally.  

  1. Provide appropriate boundaries on snacking
  2. Purchase healthy food
  3. Teach children how to choose healthy food.  Make a game of looking through the refrigerator or cupboards and putting red, green, or yellow stickers on food items to indicate whether they are unhealthy, healthy, or neutral.
  4. Commend children for healthy choices
  5. Never ridicule a child for a poor food choice, especially in public
  6. If your child has a weight problem, please consult your pediatrician.  Again, never berate or criticize your child for this.

 Asthma Recent studies have evaluated whether maternal responsiveness can affect chronic diseases, such as asthma, in children.  In one study, 43 adolescents (10 – 17 years of age) were fitted with electronic records for four days to assess maternal responsiveness and blood studies were obtained to assess levels of stress hormones. Greater maternal responsiveness was associated with lower levels of stress hormones.  (In other studies these hormones have been associated with asthma exacerbations.)  (Tobin ET, et al.  Asthma-Related Immune Responses in Youth With Asthma:  Associations with Maternal Responsiveness and Expressions of Positive and Negative Effect in Daily Life.  Psychosom Med.  2015;  77(8):892-902.)


  1. Continue to be connected to your elementary age child
  2. An important aspect of sensitive parenting is LISTENING.  From the classic book on parent-child communication, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, here are some guidelines:
    • Listen quietly with full attention.  Stop what you are doing and look at your child.  You may need to sit down – and turn off your cell phone.
    • Acknowledge the child’s feelings by nodding, or saying a short phrase like “Oh”, or “I see”.
    • Give their feelings a name – even if it not the correct feeling, your child will feel validated.  “I think I hear you say you are sad your friend called you a name.”
    • Expect the answer to “How was your day?” to be “Fine” without any elaboration and think of ways to help your child tell you more.
      • Have a time during family dinners for each person to share something that happened during the day - and the topic can change each night.  It might be something funny, sad, a demonstration of a character trait (honesty, kindness, helpfulness), a challenge the person experienced.
      • Sit quietly by the child’s bedside at night.  Children will often share more just before going to sleep.
      • Take your child out on a special date to a place of his choosing.