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Parents' perceptions of their children's sedentary behaviour

Knowles, Ann-Marie and Kirk, Alison F. and Hughes, Adrienne R. (2015) Parents' perceptions of their children's sedentary behaviour. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. ISSN 2159-676X

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Sedentary behaviour is complex, occurring in different contexts and influenced by numerous factors. One such context is the home environment where the family setting can determine the type and amount of sedentary behaviour that occurs. There is limited evidence examining sedentary behaviours within a family setting, specifically in children aged 2–11 years, and qualitative studies are particularly absent. The purpose of this study was to explore parents’ understanding of sedentary behaviour and parent’s perceived influence on their children’s sedentary behaviours at home using Granich and colleagues’ conceptual model as an analytical schema. Nineteen parents (4 M, 15F; mean age = 37.3 ± 4.4 years) and their children (15 M, 4F; mean age = 6.6 ± 3.7 years) participated in either face-to-face or telephone interviews. Concurrent deductive and inductive content analysis was used to identify overall themes and the researchers employed several methods of trustworthiness during the data analysis process. Two overall themes and seven second-order themes emerged from the interviews in relation to sedentary behaviours within the family setting. Findings indicated that parents, particularly mothers, are the gatekeepers to the amount and types of sedentary behaviours that children engage in at home. Role modelling, reinforcement, rules and restrictions influence the type of sedentary activities of children, particularly electronic media use, within the home. Interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour in children should adopt a whole-family approach to modify the existing strategies already enforced by parents to ensure effectiveness.