SAGE Journal Articles

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Temperament and Obesity 

Boles, R. E., Reiter-Purtill, J., & Zeller, M. H. (2013). Persistently obese youth: Interactions between parenting styles and feeding practices with child temperament. Clinical Pediatrics, 52, 1098-1106.


Although some studies have suggested there is a connection between parenting style and childhood obesity, others have not found this same relationship. The goal of this article was to determine if other factors, such as the child’s temperament, may be impacting the relationship between parenting style and childhood obesity. Mothers of obese and non-obese children completed a variety of questionnaires regarding their parenting styles, their child’s temperament, and mealtime practices. The findings suggest the more difficult an obese child’s temperament, the more difficult mealtime interactions are. In addition, mothers of obese children who reported low levels of warmth were also more likely to have children with difficult temperaments. The results of this study may help us to understand why children, even those with positive parent-child interactions, continue to remain obese.

Discussion Questions:

  1. The authors indicate one of the limitations for their study was that the participants were all recruited by a local clinic where they were seeking treatment for their obesity. Why might this be a limitation? Would there be concerns with internal or external validity?
  2. A second limitation the authors mention has to do with possible cultural differences. If the difficulties the authors describe are based on temperament and parenting styles, would we expect to see differences across cultures? Do we see differences in parenting styles or temperament across different cultures?
  3. When looking at the BMI for the female caregivers, there appears to be a significant difference between the obese and comparison groups such that the female caregivers of the obese group had a significantly higher BMI. Although temperament or parenting style might impact obesity, is it possible there may be genetic or other environmental factors at play here?

Reactive Attachment Disorder 

Stinehart, M. A., Scott, D. A., & Barfield, H. G. (2012). Reactive Attachment Disorder in adopted and foster children: Implications for mental health professionals. The Family Journal, 20, 355-360.


This article describes the symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and the impact this disorder can have for the families of adoptive children. The authors describe several techniques for therapists working with children diagnosed with RAD including teaching parents how to help their children self-regulate, integrative play therapy, and behavioral management therapy. However, the authors caution that just because a child is exhibiting behavioral problems does not mean a diagnosis of RAD is appropriate. There are a variety of reasons why adopted children or children in foster care may be exhibiting these problems and counselors must be cautious about their diagnosis.

Discussion Questions:

  1. The authors repeatedly mention that not all children who are adopted develop RAD and suggest this may be because they were able to form bonds with other adults or peers. Are there other possible reasons why some children may develop RAD while others do not? Could this be an early sign of resiliency?
  2. According to the DSM-IV-TR, in order for a child to be diagnosed with RAD, they must exhibit symptoms before the age of 5-years-old. Why do you think this age limit exists? Why might a child who begins to exhibit symptoms at age 10 not be diagnosed with RAD?s
  3. What might be some of the other reasons, aside from attachment disorders, that children who are adopted or in the foster care system might show symptoms similar to those of RAD?