Mothers’ Perspectives on the Development of Their Preschoolers’ Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviors and Parent-Child Relationship: Implications for Pediatric Primary Care Physicians

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Abstract

The study explores female caregivers’ reflections on their relationship with their child (2-5 years old) and the development of their child’s dietary and physical activity behaviors. Five, 90-minute semistructured focus groups were conducted to inquire about children’s growth, eating behaviors and routines, physical activity, personality, and the parent-child relationship. Nineteen female caregivers diverse in race/ethnicity, age, and educational attainment participated. Participants reported that they maintained a schedule, but needed to be flexible to accommodate daily responsibilities. Family, social factors, and day care routines were influences on their children’s behaviors. The main physical activity barriers were safety and time constraints. Guidance from pediatric primary care providers aimed at supporting female caregivers to build a positive foundation in their parent-child relationship, and to adopt and model healthy diet and physical activity behaviors that are respectful of schedules and barriers should be a priority for childhood obesity prevention.

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