Purpose: Hispanic preschoolers are less active than their non-Hispanic peers. As part of a feasibility study to assess environmental and parenting influences on preschooler physical activity (PA) (Niños Activos), the aim of this study was to identify what parents do to encourage or discourage PA among Hispanic 3-5 year old children to inform the development of a new PA parenting practice instrument and future interventions to increase PA among Hispanic youth.
Methods: Nominal Group Technique (NGT), a structured multi-step group procedure, was used to elicit and prioritize responses from 10 groups of Hispanic parents regarding what parents do to encourage (5 groups) or discourage (5 groups) preschool aged children to be active. Five groups consisted of parents with low education (less than high school) and 5 with high education (high school or greater) distributed between the two NGT questions.
Results: Ten NGT groups (n = 74, range 4-11/group) generated 20-46 and 42-69 responses/group for practices that encourage or discourage PA respectively. Eight to 18 responses/group were elected as the most likely to encourage or discourage PA. Parental engagement in child activities, modeling PA, and feeding the child well were identified as parenting practices that encourage child PA. Allowing TV and videogame use, psychological control, physical or emotional abuse, and lack of parental engagement emerged as parenting practices that discourage children from being active. There were few differences in the pattern of responses by education level.
Conclusions: Parents identified ways they encourage and discourage 3-5 year-olds from PA, suggesting both are important targets for interventions. These will inform the development of a new PA parenting practice scale to be further evaluated. Further research should explore the role parents play in discouraging child PA, especially in using psychological control or submitting children to abuse, which were new findings in this study.