Parents’ perception of their influence on their child’s physical activity

Gwendolyn Kay VanDerworp, Sarah-Jane Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Childhood physical activity (PA) has declined in the western world recently. To combat child inactivity, government programs have been organized to promote PA within families. It is important for physiotherapists to understand the influence parents perceive to have on their child’s PA habits in order to better encourage a positive parental influence. The purpose of this study is to explore how parents perceive their influence on their child/children’s PA through an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach. This qualitative study used a phenomenological approach with semi-structured interviews conducted with five participants. The interviews were analyzed using elements of IPA. Master themes developed with their corresponding subthemes: creating an environment of opportunity—logistics, opportunities through encouragement and PA within the family, barriers to PA—barriers created by parents and barriers created by external factors, and parent and child interactions—children communicating interest and disinterest in PA and parent’s attitudes toward children’s disinterest. The findings suggest that parents perceive themselves to have a greater positive influence on their children rather than negative. The barriers that parents create are not perceived to prevent their child’s PA but rather restrict it. Many participants reported enjoying doing PA with their children and used PA as an opportunity for family time, indicating a dual purpose for PA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Health Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2014


  • Child health
  • health promotion
  • parental influence


Dive into the research topics of 'Parents’ perception of their influence on their child’s physical activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this