Pester Power: Understanding Parent–Child Communication About Fruits and Vegetables in Low-Income Families From the Child’s Perspective
Pick a better snack™, a multicomponent social marketing intervention to promote fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption, develops children’s ability to ask their parents for F&V. This study’s purpose was to understand this “pester power” from the child’s perspective. Pester power is leveraging children’s ability to convince their parents to purchase items in the store that they normally would not have considered buying. Focus groups were conducted with third-grade program participants (n = 30) and involved a traditional discussion format, a drawing activity, and role-playing. Most of the communication participants described involved straightforward requests, although a few children described behaviors such as whining. Most reported their parents responded affirmatively to requests, and some described a positive emotional response from parents. Parent denials were typically related to concerns about cost or the child not eating the item after purchase. Findings pointed to high self-efficacy and response efficacy among these children, although role-playing of effective asking strategies and addressing reasons why parents deny requests could enhance the program. Social marketing efforts including children should consider how pester power may play a role in moving adult behavior.