Mother knows best? Childrens physical activity levels and preferences.

Rebecca Bassett-Gunter, Scott Leatherdale


Background: Parents are the gate-keepers to young childrens physical activity (PA) and knowledge of their childrens PA levels and preferences may impact the PA opportunities they provide. Purpose: The current study examined childrens PA preferences (considering sex and grade variations) and the discrepancy between childrens preferences and parents perceptions. Method: Cross-sectional data were collected from 2,363 children (grades 1-4) and their parents. Children reported their PA preferences and PA levels relative to other students. Parents reported perceptions of their childrens PA preferences and levels.

Results: Regardless of sex or age, the large majority of children like playing sports (95%), although less parents perceived that their children like playing sports (75%). Further, most children reported that they were less active than other children (69%), while the majority of parents perceived that their children were more active than other children (53%).

Conclusion: Parents perceptions of childrens PA levels and preferences are often not aligned with the preferences of their children. Inaccurate parental perceptions have the potential to be detrimental with regard to the PA opportunities parents provide for their children.


youth, sport, physical activity, exercise, preferences

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ISSN: 19206216