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What do parents and preschool staff tell us about young children's physical activity: a qualitative study


Dwyer, G.M et al

Subject Keywords: A research article examining influences of physical activity patterns in children.
Topic: Obesity
Type: Report
Region: International (other)

The aims of this qualitative study were to explore the attitudes, values, knowledge and understanding of parents and carers of preschool-age children in relation to physical activity and small screen recreation and to identify influences upon these behaviours. This research involved a focus group study with parents and carers of the target population. A purposive sample of 39 participants participated in 9 focus groups. Participants were drawn from three populations of interest: those from lower socioeconomic status, and Middle-Eastern and Chinese communities in the Sydney metropolitan region. All participants understood the value of physical activity but were unfamiliar with national guidelines. Factors such as the child's personality, the physical activity facilities available, the perceived safety of their community child's preference for being active, positive parent or peer modelling, access to safe play areas, organised activities, preschool programs and a sense of social connectedness influenced physical activity. Barriers to physical activity included, time restraints, financial constraints and cultural values favouring educational achievement. Parents considered that young children are naturally 'programmed' to be active, and that society 'de-programs' this behaviour. Staff expressed concern that free, creative active play was being lost and that alternate activities were increasingly sedentary. The findings suggest that efforts may best be directed at emphasising national guidelines for small screen recreation and educating families and carers about the importance of creative, free play to reinforce the child's inherent nature to be active.



Rights: © 2008 Dwyer et al.
Suggested citation:

Dwyer, G.M et al. (2008) What do parents and preschool staff tell us about young children's physical activity: a qualitative study [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 21st November 2019].


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