Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Relationships among Children's Beliefs, Perceptions of Their Parents' Beliefs, and Their Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Relationships among Children's Beliefs, Perceptions of Their Parents' Beliefs, and Their Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity

Article excerpt

One recent public health objective identified in Healthy People 2000 (US. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990) was to increase children's participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Achieving this objective requires an understanding of the motivational determinants of children's participation in MVPA so that programs may be developed that optimize motivation and participation.

Researchers are just beginning attempts to identify the determinants of children's physical activity behavior (e.g., Sallis, Nader, Broyles, et al., 1993) but little is known. Evidence does indicate, however, that a complex arrangement of determinants, which include peers, community, coaches/teachers, school, media, and the family, are involved (Anderssen & Wold, 1992; Sallis & Nader, 1988). Although all of these factors may certainly be important, the role of the family (i.e., parents and siblings) is significant. First, most children remain in the family environment for many years, which provides many opportunities for parental influence. Second, it has been suggested that parental influence is critical for children in setting health values and in learning to make health-related decisions (Petchers, Hirsch, & Bloch, 1987). Although it seems logical to assume parents influence a number of their children's health behaviors, such as eating and MVPA, very little is known about this process (Gochman, 1985). This lack of understanding is highlighted by the fact that intensive family-based health promotion programs have had minimal success in increasing children's or parents' MVPA (Sallis, Simons-Morton, Stone, et al., 1992).

Although there is some conceptual logic and empirical support for the importance of examining family influence (Moore, Lombardi, White, et al., 1991), the specific family influence variables involved in determining children's MVPA, their relationship to each other, and how they influence children's MVPA have not been clearly delineated. In order for a significant understanding of children's MVPA participation to emerge, a conceptual framework is needed to provide descriptions of the relationships among multiple influences of children's MVPA. Hence, the present investigation is guided by a conceptual model [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED] of family influence it is hoped will lead to enhanced understanding of children's MVPA as well as guide future interventions.

The model guiding the present investigation is partly based on Bandura's (1986) social-cognitive theory, which posits that behavior is a function of the reciprocal interaction among personal, environmental, and behavioral factors. The more specific components of the model pertaining to parent-child beliefs are derived from Eccles (Parsons), Adler, Futterman, et al.'s (1983) expectancy-value model for understanding children's achievement-related behavior in academic settings. The model suggests that the home environment is the underlying core for understanding family influence on a child's MVPA. The home environment, which consists of parent/sibling beliefs, parent/sibling behavior, and family functioning and interaction, influences a child's appraisal of the home environment as it pertains to his or her MVPA. This appraisal process is then related to the formation of a child's specific beliefs pertaining to MVPA which are considered to be a primary cause of his or her MVPA behavior. A child's MVPA behavior is then also linked to his or her cardiovascular functioning and other (CVD) risk factors.

Importantly, this home/family influence process does not exist in isolation from the influences of the outside world. The model adopts a "person-in-context" approach (Ford & Lerner, 1992), which assumes that family influence on a child's MVPA behavior cannot be truly understood unless the demographic characteristics and the dynamics of the environment outside the home are also considered. With respect to the environment outside the home, significant adult others (e. …

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