Parent-child attitude congruence on type and intensity of physical activity: testing multiple mediators of sedentary behavior in older children

Health Psychol. 2009 Jul;28(4):428-38. doi: 10.1037/a0014522.


Objective: This study examined parent-child attitudes on value of specific types and intensities of physical activity, which may explain gender differences in child activity, and evaluated physical activity as a mechanism to reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors.

Design: A community sample of 681 parents and 433 children (mean age 9.9 years) reported attitudes on importance of vigorous and moderate intensity team and individually performed sports/activities, as well as household chores. Separate structural models (LISREL 8.7) for girls and boys tested whether parental attitudes were related to child TV and computer via child attitudes, sport team participation, and physical activity, controlling for demographic factors.

Main outcome measures: Child 7-day physical activity, sport teams, weekly TV, computer.

Results: Parent-child attitude congruence was more prevalent among boys, and attitudes varied by ethnicity, parent education, and number of children. Positive parent-child attitudes for vigorous team sports were related to increased team participation and physical activity, as well as reduced TV and computer in boys and girls. Value of moderate intensity household chores, such as cleaning house and doing laundry, was related to decreased team participation and increased TV in boys. Only organized team sports, not general physical activity, was related to reduced TV and computer.

Conclusion: Results support parents' role in socializing children's achievement task values, affecting child activity by transferring specific attitudes. Value of vigorous intensity sports provided the most benefits to activity and reduction of sedentary behavior, while valuing household chores had unexpected negative effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Computers
  • Culture
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Socialization
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Television