Poster Topical Area: Nutrition Education and Behavioral Sciences

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 199

P18-031 - Active Play in Families with Elementary School Children: Parent Beliefs and Behaviors

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM


Active family play offers physical and emotional benefits, yet little is known about parental beliefs and behaviors related to active play. This study aimed to assess perceived importance, barriers to, and facilitators of active play in parents of 6-to-11 year-olds.


Trained moderators led scripted focus group discussions related to active play with 37 parents in 3 states (FL, NJ, WV) and a brief survey was completed by 185 parents.


Survey results revealed that parents were playing with children an average of 2.92±1.97SD days/week. Focus group interchanges revealed that parents find active play important to good health in families and encourage children to play with other children to form relationships. However, parents face barriers that influence the amount of active play their children receive. Commonly named barriers included time scarcity and dense schedules for both parents and children, with parents having to coordinate work schedules with children's school and extra-curricular activities. A common barrier to parent-child co-play was parents' lack of energy. Parents felt that as their kids got older it was more difficult for them to keep up with kids and therefore felt kids should play with other kids instead of parents. Bad weather also was a barrier to outdoor active play for many families. When faced with active play indoors, parents often struggled with finding space in the home for play. Parents named dancing as a common active indoor activity that requires little space. Further, children in elementary school were less active compared to younger years, increasing the need for parental effort to motivate children to play. To overcome barriers, parents set small, reasonable goals to stay active. Utilization of available resources was encouraged by parents, with English-speaking parents recommending extra-curricular activities as an avenue for active play and Spanish-speaking parents encouraging recreational activities such playing at the park.


Parents actively play with children fewer than half the days in a week, however parents' do recognize of the importance of active play. Obesity prevention programs could help parents learn effective strategies for engaging in active play with children.

Funding Source:

United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Grant Number 2017-680001-26351

CoAuthors: Rebecca Hagedorn – West Virginia University; Kaitlynq Eck – Rutgers University; Colleen Delaney – Rutgers Univeristy; Karla Shelnutt – University of Florida; Carol Byrd-Bredbenner – Rutgers UNiversity; Melissa Olfert – West Virginia University

Rebecca Hagedorn

Graduate Research Assistant
West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia