Parenting Practice and Physical Activity: Exploring the Gendered Influences of Modeling, Support, and Control on Young Children's Objectively Measured Physical Activity




Peeters, Mwalu

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University of Guelph


This study examined associations between parents’ physical activity-related parenting practices and objectively measured activity levels in their preschool-aged children. Survey data from 16 mother-father dyads participating in the Guelph Family Health Study was used to generate estimates of maternal and paternal physical activity, modeling, supportive, and controlling behaviours. Physical activity (PA) in the 24 participating children (15 males, 9 females) was measured using accelerometers. Linear regression modeling using the generalized estimating equation (GEE) approach was applied to identify associations between parenting practices and children’s moderate-to-vigorous and total physical activity (MVPA and TPA). Analyses stratified by child sex found positive associations between modeling by either parent and female children’s MVPA and TPA, while paternal enrolment of children in structured activities and maternal control were positively associated with MVPA and TPA among males. While maternal control facilitated activity among males, it displayed a significant negative association with female children’s activity levels. Our results revealed differing responses by male and female children to mothers’ and fathers’ PA parenting practices, and suggest the need for further research into the ways that maternal and paternal modeling, support, and control influence young children’s PA behaviours across sexes.



children, parent, family, physical activity, modeling, support, control, gender, accelerometry, IPAQ, obesity, pre-school, toddler, maternal, paternal, moderate-to-vigorous