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Moving together: Understanding parent perceptions related to physical activity and motor skill development in preschool children


Background: Establishing physical activity (PA) and motor behaviors in early childhood are important for developing healthy activity behaviors. Parents play a central role in shaping young children’s PA and fundamental motor skills (FMS). This qualitative study explored parents’ attributes, values, perceptions, and practices related to PA and FMS. Methods: Thirty-one parents (26 mothers) of preschool-aged children participated in semi-structured in-person interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, coded and analyzed using an iterative approach. Results: Four themes related to PA and FMS emerged: (1) parent attributes; (2) parent–child interactions; (3) parent perception of children’s attributes; and (4) parenting practices. Although most parents enjoyed playing with their child, some did not realize the importance of engaging in PA with their child and even believed that FMS are naturally developed. Parents indicated that children’s temperament may influence their preference for practicing motor skills. Conclusions: Social support and positive parenting practices, including encouragement, monitoring, logistical support, co-participation, and facilitation, are important for the development of PA and FMS. The findings add emphasis to the importance of parents’ role in the development of young children’s PA and FMS, and they inform future strategies aiming to promote young children’s activity behaviors. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

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