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Family routines, child development and wellbeing

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Prof I Pretty  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Family life revolves around routines. From morning to bedtime, routines are an ever-present characteristic of parent-child interactions. Recent evidence has highlighted the importance of bedtime routines for children’s development and wellbeing as well as for parental mood and family functioning. Bedtime routines are important, but they are not standalone features of family life with different interactions throughout the day influencing children’s development and wellbeing in many ways. Therefore, understanding family routines more broadly can help us shed light on factors affecting children’s development and wellbeing as well as parental wellbeing and family functioning.

To assess the effect of family routines, we propose a mixed methods approach, one that takes into consideration the nuances of individual families and their characteristics. We want to explore what unfolds in families’ daily lives, how routines vary from one family to another, how sociodemographic and economic characteristics might influence family routines and assess their overall impact on a number of important outcomes including: children’s oral health, school readiness, psychosocial and emotional development and cognitive functioning will be explored alongside parents’ mood, stress, confidence, and family functioning. A systematic review (or scoping exercise) can complement data collected during the project and allow for further explorations of family routines and their implications for children’s development and wellbeing.

Finally, different possible interventions to offer support for the establishment of more optimal routines will be explored towards the end of the project. Through this project, an in-depth understanding of family life and routines and their implications for children will be achieved while consideration will be given on how to best support and help families. 

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area/subject. Candidates with previous laboratory experience are particularly encouraged to apply.

How To Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/”

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 1 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/fees/


Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Allan, J., Kelly, M. P., & Pretty, I. A. (2018). Bedtime routines child wellbeing & development. BMC public health, 18(1), 1-12.
Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Allan, J., & Pretty, I. A. (2021). Defining and measuring bedtime routines in families with young children—A DELPHI process for reaching wider consensus. PloS one, 16(2), e0247490.
Kitsaras, G., Allan, J., & Pretty, I. A. (2020). Bedtime Routines Intervention for Children (BRIC) using an automated text messaging system for behaviour change: study protocol for an early phase study. Pilot and feasibility studies, 6(1), 1-9.
Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Allan, J., Kelly, M. P., & Pretty, I. A. (2021). Bedtime Routine Characteristics and Activities in Families with Young Children in the North of England. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(17), 8983.
Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Kelly, M., Pretty, I., & Allan, J. (2021). Perceived Barriers and Facilitators for Bedtime Routines in Families with Young Children. Children, 8(1), 50.
Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Allan, J., Kelly, M., & Pretty, I. (2020). An Interactive Text Message Survey as a Novel Assessment for Bedtime Routines in Public Health Research: Observational Study. JMIR public health and surveillance, 6(4), e15524.
Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Kelly, M. P., & Pretty, I. A. (2021). Bedtime Oral Hygiene Behaviours, Dietary Habits and Children’s Dental Health. Children, 8(5), 416.
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