Parents’ Activity-Related Parenting Practices Predict Girls’ Physical Activity

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Abstract

Purpose

Using a sample of 180 9-yr-old girls and their parents, this study examined (a) parents’ activity-related parenting strategies and similarities and differences in such strategies for mothers and fathers, and (b) links between activity-related parenting strategies and girls’ physical activity patterns.

Methods

Measures of girls’ physical activity included the Children’s Physical Activity scale, participation in organized sports, and physical fitness. We developed a questionnaire to assess ways in which parents promote physical activity among their children.

Results

Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses identified two factors for each parent including logistic support of girls’ activity (i.e., enrolling girls in sports and driving them to events) and parents’ explicit modeling (i.e., the extent to which parents used their own behavior to encourage their daughters to be active). Mothers reported significantly higher levels of logistic support than fathers, whereas fathers reported higher levels of explicit modeling than mothers. Although mothers and fathers tended to report different methods of support, both methods were associated with higher physical activity among girls. Finally, girls reported significantly higher levels of physical activity when at least one parent reported high levels of overall support in comparison to no parents; no significant differences were identified for support from one versus two parents.

Conclusion

Results from this study indicate the positive contribution that parents can have on activity practices of their young daughters.

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