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A systematic review of the relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity

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Abstract

Physical activity is an important component of childhood that promotes health and well-being. Parents could play a pivotal role in children’s involvement in physical activity by means of their parenting style. The role of parenting styles in children’s physical activity is unclear. The aim of this systematic review was to establish the role of parenting styles in children’s physical activity. A search was conducted during the month of February 2013 using databases and journals such as Science Direct, Ebscohost (PsyArticles, Medline, Academic Search Complete, SportDiscus and Rehabilitation and Sport Medicine Source), BioMed Central, PubMed, Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ) and SAGE Journals for the periods from 2002 to 2012. Two reviewers independently evaluated the methodological quality of the studies reviewed. Eleven articles met the criteria for the inclusion in the review. These studies included six cross-sectional studies, three cohort studies and two that used both cross-sectional and cohort studies. Five of the studies were conducted in USA, two in Iran and one each respectively in Australia, Pacific Island, North East England and Northern Taiwan. The age groups of the participants ranged from birth to adolescence. Four of the studies looked at the parent-child dyad when collecting the required data. This review found that parenting styles were related to the promotion of physical activity. Specifically, the results suggest that the majority of studies found a positive relationship between authoritative parenting styles and physical activity. This study provides a good perspective for better understanding the role of parental relations in the context of postmodern sedentary society.
African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance
(AJPHERD) Supplement 2:1 (October), 2014, pp. 228-246.
A systematic review of the relationship between parenting styles
and children’s physical activity
EUGENE LEE DAVIDS AND NICOLETTE VANESSA ROMAN
Child and Family Studies Programme, Department of Social Work, University of the
Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville, Cape Town 7535, South Africa. E-mail:
davidse.psych@gmail.com
Abstract
Physical activity is an important component of childhood that promotes health and well-being.
Parents could play a pivotal role in children’s involvement in physical activity by means of their
parenting style. The role of parenting styles in children’s physical activity is unclear. The aim of
this systematic review was to establish the role of parenting styles in children’s physical activity.
A search was conducted during the month of February 2013 using databases and journals such as
Science Direct, Ebscohost (PsyArticles, Medline, Academic Search Complete, SportDiscus and
Rehabilitation and Sport Medicine Source), BioMed Central, PubMed, Directory of Open Access
Journal (DOAJ) and SAGE Journals for the periods from 2002 to 2012. Two reviewers
independently evaluated the methodological quality of the studies reviewed. Eleven articles met
the criteria for the inclusion in the review. These studies included six cross-sectional studies,
three cohort studies and two that used both cross-sectional and cohort studies. Five of the studies
were conducted in USA, two in Iran and one each respectively in Australia, Pacific Island, North
East England and Northern Taiwan. The age groups of the participants ranged from birth to
adolescence. Four of the studies looked at the parent-child dyad when collecting the required
data. This review found that parenting styles were related to the promotion of physical activity.
Specifically, the results suggest that the majority of studies found a positive relationship between
authoritative parenting styles and physical activity. This study provides a good perspective for
better understanding the role of parental relations in the context of postmodern sedentary society.
Keywords: Parenting, parenting styles, physical activity, well-being, systematic review.
How to cite this article:
Davids, E.L. & Roman, N.V. (2014). A systematic review of the relationship between parenting
styles and children’s physical activity. African Journal for Physical, Health Education,
Recreation and Dance, October (Supplement 2:1), 228-246.
Introduction
Physical inactivity and low levels of physical activity are related to sedentary
lifestyles and poor nutrition intake and are considered the fourth leading cause of
global mortality (World Health Organisation, 2009). Physical inactivity has also
been found to be the leading cause of non-communicable disease and therefore
could potentially become a public health concern (Strydom, 2013). Children,
especially have been found to be more physically inactive as they progress into
adolescence (Mountjoy et al., 2011). Sedentary lifestyles develop among youth
as a result of physical inactivity which may continue into adulthood (Sekot,
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 229
2012). A decrease in being physically active during childhood and adolescence
could result in obesity and other health-related concerns (Monyeki et al., 2012).
This phenomenon is experienced internationally, in both developing and
developed countries, as a result of urbanisation, industrialisation and
globalisation (Jacka et al., 2011). In South Africa, 74.6% of individuals are
physically inactive (Strydom, 2013), which means that only a quarter of
individuals are physically active. These findings are concerning since the
assumption is that physical activity is an important component of health and
well-being but young people’s involvement in physical activity may not
necessarily be aligned with what it ought to be to promote health and well-being
(Standage et al., 2012).
Physical activity is an important component of childhood that sets the stage for
adult behaviours (Standage et al., 2012). Often physical activity is associated
with numerous benefits of physical and mental health and well-being that
increase as the amount and intensity of activity increases (Ahn & Fedewa, 2011).
Furthermore, involvement in physical activity is also considered important
during childhood for brain development and, when carried out in the form of
sport participation, it is beneficial for pro-social development (Jacka et al.,
2011). Clearly then, children should become physically active and increase their
physical activities especially if their levels of physical activity are not as desired.
Parents could therefore be the key to encouraging their children to actively
participate in physical activities.
As children are socialised and shaped by both their parents’ and society’s values
and beliefs (Spera, 2005), parenting plays a pivotal role in the socialisation and
development of children (White et al., 2009). The parent-child relationship is
also linked to the child’s development and well-being (Akinsola, 2011). Central
to the parent-child relationship is that of parenting style which can or, to the
contrary, cannot assist in the development of competent and adjusted children
(Akinsola, 2011). Parenting style is often defined as a ‘typology of attitudes and
behaviours that characterise how a parent will interact with a child across
domains of parenting’ (Ventura & Birch, 2008: 3). These styles create the
context in which parents raise their children and the manner in which they parent
(Darling & Steinberg, 1993).
Three commonly accepted parenting styles: that is, authoritarian, authoritative
and permissive, have been associated with different outcomes for children. These
three styles are differentiated by parental control and acceptance, as well as by
warmth and interactions (Fuemmeler et al., 2012). An authoritarian parent is low
on acceptance and high on control, while an authoritative parent is high on both
control and acceptance, and a permissive parent is high on acceptance and low
on control (Swartz et al., 2008). The authoritarian parent sets strict rules and
standards to which children must adhere, with little warmth shown towards the
230 Davids and Roman
children (Swartz et al., 2008). On the other hand authoritative parents display
warmth and respect towards their children; they have rules in place and explain
to their children the reasons behind the rules and limitations that they set by them
(Spera, 2005; Keshavarz & Baharudin, 2009). Additionally, the permissive
parent displays nurturance and warmth toward his/her children; however, there
are little to no rules and limits imposed (Swartz, 2008). Parenting styles can play
a pivotal role in the development and belief towards children’s and adolescents’
involvement in physical activity (Kimiecik & Horn, 2012), as supporters of their
children’s engagement in physical activity and health-related behaviours (Berge
et al., 2010). Since parenting plays an important role in determining the lifestyle
that children lead (Lau, Lee & Ransdell, 2007; Mountjoy et al., 2011), it is
important for health professionals to have a comprehensive understanding of the
relationship between parenting styles and physical activity in children.
Systematic reviews have been conducted which examine parenting and
children’s physical activity (Newman, Harrison, Dashiff & Davies, 2008; Beets,
Cardinal & Alderman, 2010). However, these reviews mainly covered parental
social support and children’s physical activity (Beets et al., 2010) as well as
parenting styles and adolescent risk behaviour (Newman et al., 2008; Beets et al.,
2010). The current systematic review, however, aimed to establish the
association between parenting styles (in terms of Baumrind’s (1991) typology of
parenting) and physical activity that currently exist within the body of research.
A review by Trost and Loprinzi (2011) considered the social environment in
which children often find themselves; which are the parental home, family
cohesion, parental practices and behaviours, as well as parenting styles.
However, Trost and Loprinzi (2011) included only two studies that looked at the
association between parenting styles and physical activity. Both of these studies
looked at the authoritative parenting style and did not consider the other
parenting styles of Baumrind (which would also include the authoritarian and
permissive parenting styles). This review, however, considers the three main
parenting styles which Baumrind defines, and considers the underlying
association between the parenting styles and physical activity of children,
adolescents and/or youth.
The current review has also included more studies that were not included within
the review by Trost and Loprinzi (2011) as it goes beyond the authoritative
parenting style, which was the main focus of their review. Trost and Loprinzi
(2011) indicated that there is a gap in the literature in studies that examine the
association between physical activity and parenting styles. However, the
contribution by Trost and Loprinzi (2011) assists in providing more valuable
information on the association between parent-child interactions and physical
activity than on parenting styles and physical activity. This systematic review,
therefore, further adds to the current debates in the research concerning the
valuable contribution of parents to the promotion of physical activity among
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 231
children. This review aims to (i) determine which parenting style promotes
physical activity, (ii) to examine the influences of parenting styles on physical
activity, (iii) identify the instruments or methods to assess physical activity and
parenting styles and (iv) to evaluate the methodological quality of studies
looking at parenting styles and physical activity among children, adolescents
and/or youth.
Methods
Before embarking on the systematic review, terms and explanations to be
included within the review were considered (Table 1). A systematic process of
collection, examination and reporting was subsequently followed.
Terms and definitions
Table 1: Terms and definitions
Term:
Definition / explanation:
Parenting styles
‘Typology of attitudes and behaviours that characterise how a
parent will interact with a child across domains of parenting’
(Ventura & Birch, 2008). Baumrind identifies three parenting styles
namely that of (i) authoritative, (ii) authoritarian and (iii)
permissive (parenting, parenting styles).
Physical activity
Any bodily movement made by the skeletal muscles with the
overall outcome of energy expenditure by an individual (Thorsen et
al., 2005).
Search strategy
In addressing the role that parenting styles play in physical activity of children,
adolescents and/or youth, a search was conducted in February 2013, using
databases and journals such as Science Direct, Ebscohost (PsycArticles,
Medline, Academic Search Complete, SportDiscus and Rehabilitation and Sport
Medicine Source), BioMed Central, PubMed, Directory of Open Access Journal
(DOAJ) and SAGE Journals for the periods from 2002 to 2012. The studies
included in the review consisted of prevalence studies that determined the
incidence of physical activity and parenting styles, as well as those which looked
at the association between the two variables. The terms used in the search
included physical activity, parenting style, authoritative parenting, authoritarian
parenting, permissive parenting and uninvolved parenting. From the results
obtained, the titles and abstracts were reviewed and examined, using the
inclusion criteria outlined in the next section. The retrieval of possible full text
articles was done by one of the reviewers and the same process was then
followed by another reviewer to determine whether the article adequately met the
criteria for inclusion in the review.
232 Davids and Roman
Inclusion criteria
The following criteria were considered before a study was included within the
review: (i) the paper had to be published in, or translated into, the English
language, (ii) the paper had to be published between 2002 and 2012 (to consider
literature that was published within the past ten years to give an overview of
what is considered current within the findings), (iii) the study had involved either
children, adolescents or youth as part of the sample and (iv) the study had to look
at the relationship/association between parenting styles and physical activity.
Methods of the review
The primary researcher conducted an initial search and reviewed the abstracts
and articles. The initial search yielded 6 619 articles for the keywords parenting
styles and physical activity. The searches thereafter yielded 1 424 articles for
parenting styles, authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, permissive
parenting, uninvolved parenting and physical activity. Following these searches,
the titles were reviewed for eligibility and a sample of 123 studies was reached.
Six additional studies were considered for possible inclusion, which were
obtained from other sources and from reference lists of other articles. The next
stage involved removing any duplicates that existed and the remaining sample
consisted of thirteen retrieved articles that met the inclusion criteria. These
articles were independently read to establish inclusion within the systematic
review and the methodological quality of the articles was evaluated to establish
their inclusion in the systematic review.
Methodological quality appraisal
The methodological quality for the studies was assessed using an instrument
(Table 2) adapted from previous systematic reviews by Louw, Morris and
Grimmer-Somers (2007), Wong, Cheung and Hart (2008) as well as Roman and
Frantz (2013). The final sample consisted of thirteen articles which were
included in the systematic review (Table 3). Figure 1 outlines the process
involved in the systematic review.
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 233
Table 2: Methodological Quality Appraisal Tool
1
Sampling method: Was it representative of the population intended
in the study?
A. Non-probability sampling (including: purposive, quota,
convenience and snowball sampling)
B. Probability sampling (including: simple random, systematic,
stratified g, cluster, two-stage and multi-stage sampling)
0
1
2
Was a response rate mentioned within the study? (Respond no if
response rate is below 60)
A. No
B. Yes
0
1
3
Was the measurement tool used valid and reliable?
A. No
B. Yes
0
1
4
Was it a primary or secondary data source?
A. Primary data source
B. Secondary data source (survey, not designed for the purpose)
1
0
5
Was Physical Activity looked at within the study?
A. No
B. Yes
0
1
6
Was the relationship/association between Parenting Styles and
Physical Activity explored?
A. No
B. Yes
0
1
Bad
Satisfactory
Good
0 33 %
34 66 %
67 100 %
Table 3: Methodological Appraisal
Author(s)
Q1
Q2
Q3
Q4
Q5
Q6
%
Total
Saunders,
Hume,
Timperio
and
Salmon
(2012)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
Hennessy
et al.
(2010)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
Arredondo
et al.
(2006)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
Berge,
Wall, Loth
and
Neumark-
Sztainer
(2010)
0
1
0
0
1
1
50
34 66 %
Benar and
Behrozi
(2012)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
234 Davids and Roman
Author(s)
Q1
Q2
Q3
Q4
Q5
Q6
%
Total
Johnson et
al. (2012)
0
1
1
1
1
1
83.33
67 100 %
Wen and
Hui (2012)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
Oliver,
Schluter,
Schofield
and
Paterson
(2011)
0
1
0
0
1
1
50
34 66 %
Berge,
Wall,
Bauer and
Neumark-
Sztainer
(2010)
0
1
0
0
1
1
50
34 66 %
King et al.
(2010)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
Benar, et
al. (2012)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
Chen,
Unnithan,
Kennedy
and Yeh
(2008)
0
1
1
1
1
1
83.33
67 100 %
Schmitz et
al. (2002)
1
1
1
1
1
1
100
67 100 %
Data extraction
After the completion of the Methodological Quality Appraisal, the studies that
met the criteria for the categories of good to satisfactory were reviewed, and a
data extraction table was formed, using the guidelines of Roman and Frantz’s
(2013) data extraction tool, which included information regarding the study. The
information in the data extraction table included author, geographical location of
study, study design, participant information, the aim or purpose of the study,
instruments used to assess physical activity and parenting styles, as well as the
relationship/association between parenting styles and physical activity (Table 4).
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 235
Figure 1: Flow chart of study screening
IDENTIFICATION
Articles yielded by search through Science
Direct, Ebscohost (PsyArticles, Medline,
Academic Search Complete, SportDiscus and
Rehabilitation and Sport Medicine Source),
BioMed Central, PubMed, Directory of Open
Access Journal (DOAJ) and SAGE Journal
Databases
(n= 1 424)
Articles yielded from other
sources
(n= 6)
Records after reviewing article titles
(n = 129)
Articles after duplicates removed
(n = 25)
Articles screened
(n = 25)
Articles excluded
(n= 12)
SCREENING
Full-text articles assessed
for eligibility
(n = 13)
Full-text articles
(n = 13)
ELIGIBILITY
INCLUDED
11 articles (Finally Included)
236 Davids and Roman
Results
Table 3 provides an outline of the results that were obtained for the various
studies, which utilised the methodological appraisal instrument to assist with the
final inclusion criteria. Of the initial 25 studies, 13 formed part of the
methodological appraisal section of the review. The criteria that were used in the
methodological quality assessment instrument included sampling methods,
measurement tool, the data sources used, whether physical activity was looked at
in the study, and whether the relationship between parenting styles and physical
activity was discussed. Of the 13 articles that formed part of the methodological
appraisal, ten reached the desired outcome within the good category in the 67
100% range and three reached the satisfactory category in the 34 66% range.
The three articles which were in the satisfactory category were included in the
review; only if an article fell within the bad category was it excluded from the
review. Furthermore, the three studies that were included also examined the
associations between physical activity and parenting styles. This was another
reason why they were included in the review. Two of the articles (Arredondo et
al., 2006; Wen & Hui, 2012) fell within the good category in the 67 100%
range; however, they were excluded from the review because, notwithstanding
that they examined the associations between physical activity and parenting
styles, they did not utilise the typology of parenting styles as defined by
Baumrind, but instead examined the associations between physical activity and
parenting practices. Therefore the remaining eleven studies that were
methodologically appraised were included in the final review.
Of the initial 25 articles, 11 articles met the reviewers’ inclusion criteria (Table 4).
Overview of reviewed studies
Of the final sample of 11 articles included in the systematic review, six were
cross-sectional, three were cohort studies and two included both cross-sectional
and cohort components. The geographical location of the studies included five
conducted within the United States of America, two in Iran, and one in Australia,
the Pacific Islands, North East England and Northern Taiwan, respectively. The
age groups of the participants of the various studies included in the review
extended to adolescence. Four of the studies looked at the parent-child dyad
when collecting the required data.
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 237
Parenting Styles
The 11 articles in the review all considered parenting styles using Baumrind’s
typology.
Table 4: Data extraction
Author
(s)
Country/
Geographical
location
Study Design
Participants
Instrument(s) used
Relationship /
association between
Parenting Styles (PS)
and Physical Activity
Saunders,
Hume,
Timperio
and
Salmon
(2012)
Melbourne,
Victoria,
Australia
Cross-
sectional and
longitudinal
Cohort Study
2001: 919
children
(495=girls)
between ages
10 -12 and
their parents
2004: 222
adolescent
girls and their
parents
2006: 166
adolescent
girls and their
parents
Height & Weight:
digital scale and
stadiometer
Parenting styles (PS):
22 item adaptation of
Baumrind’s typology
Organised sport
participation:
Adolescent Physical
Activity Recall
Questionnaire
Walking/cycling trips:
self-report
Moderate-to-vigorous
physical activity
(MVPA):
Accelerometers
Cross-sectional:
Authoritarian PS and
frequency in organised
sport participation; less
walking and cycling
due to authoritative and
indulgent PS.
Single parents:
Authoritative PS and
increased MVPA;
decreased authoritarian
related in increased
walking/ cycling.
Longitudinal:
2006: Authoritative
and neglectful PS and
physical activities
Henness
y et al.
(2010)
USA
(California,
Mississippi,
South
Carolina &
Kentucky)
Cross-
sectional
Survey
99 parent-child
dyads (children
were between
the ages of 6
11) from rural
communities
Parenting styles (PS):
Parenting Dimensions
Inventory
Activity Related
Parenting Practices:
Assessment of
logistical support and
explicit modelling.
Physical Activity:
Accelerometer
Height and weight:
Stadiometer and digital
scale
Permissive, not
uninvolved, PS related
to increased MVPA.
Increased parental
reinforcement and
monitoring to be
associated with
increased levels of
physical activity.
Berge,
Wall,
Loth and
Neumark
-Sztainer
(2010)
Minnesota,
United States
of America
Cohort study
2516
adolescents
from 31
Minnesota
schools
Parenting styles (PS): 4
PS were created using
adolescents’ reports of
parenting
characteristics
Body Mass Index:
Height/Weight
Dietary Intake: 149
item Youth and
Adolescent Food
Frequency
Questionnaire
Physical Activity:
Adapted from Godin
Leisure-Time Exercise
Questionnaire
Time 1: Paternal
neglectful PS predicted
less physical activity in
sons.
Time 2:
No significant
association between
physical activity and
parenting styles.
238 Davids and Roman
Author
(s)
Country/
Geographical
location
Study Design
Participants
Instrument(s) used
Relationship /
association between
Parenting Styles (PS)
and Physical Activity
Benar
and
Behrozi
(2012)
Rasht City,
Iran
Cross-
sectional:
survey design
360 female
high school
learners,
between ages
14 17.
Parenting Styles:
Parenting Styles
Questionnaire
Physical Activity:
Physical Activity
Questionnaire for
Adolescents
No significant
association between
parenting styles and
physical activity.
Johnson,
Welk,
Saint-
Maurice
and
Ihmels
(2012)
USA
Cross-
sectional:
survey
design
182 children
from two urban
elementary
schools, aged
7 - 10
Parenting Styles:
Parenting Styles and
Dimensions
Questionnaire
Nutrition and Physical
Activity: Family
Nutrition and Physical
Activity Assessment
Family nutrition and
physical activity
positively associated
with authoritative PS
and negatively
associated with
authoritarian and
permissive PS.
Oliver,
Schluter,
Schofiel
d and
Paterson
(2011)
Pacific Island
Two studies:
(i) Cohort
(ii) Cross-
sectional
135 children
and 91 mothers
Physical Activity:
Accelerometer
Parenting Styles:
Abbreviated version of
Parenting Styles and
Dimensions
Questionnaire
Increased authoritative
PS associated with
increased MVPA
Berge,
Wall,
Bauer
and
Neumark
-Sztainer
(2010)
Minnesota,
USA
Cohort study
4764
adolescents
from 31
different middle
and high
schools,
between ages
11 - 18
Parenting styles and
practices
Physical Activity:
Adapted from Godin
Leisure-Time Exercise
Questionnaire
Authoritative and
permissive PS co-
occurred with
modelling and
encouraging health
behaviour (A parenting
practice promoting
physical activity
among adolescents).
King et
al.
(2010)
North East
England,
United
Kingdom
Birth Cohort
Study
480 participants
Physical Activity:
Accelerometer
Parenting style
No significant
relationships
Benar,
Hemmati
nezhad,
Behrozi,
Andam
and
Yousefi
(2012)
Rasht City,
Iran
Cross-
sectional
Survey
design
360 female
learners aged
14 17 years
Parenting Styles:
Parenting Style
Questionnaire (PSI-II)
Physical Activity:
Physical Activity
Questionnaire for
Adolescents
A negative relationship
between physical
activity and mothers’
permissive PS.
Chen,
Unnithan,
Kennedy
and Yeh
(2008)
Taiwan
Cross-
sectional
Children aged 7
and 8 and their
mothers from
two elementary
schools (one
urban and one
rural)
Parenting Styles:
Child-Rearing Practice
Report, 91 item
questionnaire
Physical Activity:
(i) Seven day physical
activity recall
(ii) Progressive Aerobic
Cardiovascular
Endurance Run
(PACER)
Boys: Increased
moderate-to-vigorous
activity and low
authoritarian PS.
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 239
Author
(s)
Country/
Geographical
location
Study Design
Participants
Instrument(s) used
Relationship /
association between
Parenting Styles (PS)
and Physical Activity
Schmitz,
Lytle,
Phillips,
Murray,
Birnbau
m and
Kubik
(2002)
Twin Cities,
Minnesota
Cross-
sectional:
survey
design
3 878 seventh
graders from 16
different schools
Physical Activity:
2 items rating physical
activity levels
Parenting Styles:
Jackson et al (1994;
1998)
Girls: Maternal
authoritative PS related
to increased physical
activity.
Physical Activity
All 11 articles considered physical activity, because it was one of the
methodological quality appraisal items to be considered for inclusion in the
systematic review. In the context of the review, physical activity was considered
as being any bodily movement made by the skeletal muscles with the overall
outcome of energy expenditure by an individual, as proposed by Thorsen et al.
(2005).
The types of physical activities in which the participants engaged was very
difficult to establish, as the only study that made use of actual physical activities
was that conducted by Chen et al. (2008) which included muscular endurance (sit
ups), flexibility (sit-and-reach test) and aerobic capacity of the participants. In
addition to this study, only four studies involved the use of accelerometers to
measure participants’ physical activity engagement on the various days of data
collection (King et al., 2010; Oliver et al., 2011; Saunders et al., 2012; Hennessy
et al., 2010). However, the other studies used paper-based questionnaires and
recall methods to establish physical activity participation.
Parenting Styles and Physical Activity
The studies reviewed looked at the relationship between parenting styles and
physical activity. Four of the studies found a relationship between authoritative
parenting style and physical activity (Saunders et al., 2012 [negatively associated
with walking and cycling]; Johnson et al., 2012 [positively associated with
family nutrition and physical activity scores]; Oliver et al., 2011 [positively
associated with moderate to vigorous physical activity]; Schmitz el al., 2002
[maternal authoritative parenting style was positively associated with higher
levels of physical activity]; three found a relationship between permissive
parenting styles (Hennessy et al., 2010 [positively related to moderate to
vigorous physical activity]; Johnson et al., 2012 [negatively associated with
family nutrition and physical activity scores]; Benar et al., 2012 [negative
association in mothers and physical activity]); three for authoritarian (Saunders
et al., 2012 [positive association with organised sport]; Johnson et al., 2012
[negative association with family nutrition and physical activity scores]; Chen et
240 Davids and Roman
al., 2008 [less authoritarian parenting was associated with increased METs with
physical activity]), one for uninvolved/neglectful parenting styles (Berge, Wall,
Loth & Neumark-Sztainer, 2010 [paternal neglectful parenting predicted less
physical activity in sons]) and one study found that a mixture of authoritative and
permissive parenting was related to increased physical activity (Berge, Wall et
al, 2010 [a model of authoritative and permissive parenting was associated with
an encouraging health behaviour which included the promotion of physical
activity among adolescents]).
Furthermore, the two studies that looked at the relationship between parenting
styles and physical activity found that some of the findings had no significant
relationship between parenting styles and physical activity (Benar & Behrozi,
2012 [no associations found between physical activity and parenting styles];
King et al., 2010 [no associations found between physical activity and parenting
styles]).
Measures of assessment used
A number of methods were used to assess parenting styles in the studies
reviewed: (i) two of the studies created parenting styles based on self-reports of
adolescents’ parenting characteristics (Berge et al., 2010; Berge, Wall et al.,
2010), (ii) two studies used the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire;
other methods used by the various studies included (Oliver et al., 2011; Johnson
et al., 2012), (iii) an instrument adapted from Baumrind’s typology of parenting
(Saunders et al., 2012), (iv) parenting dimension inventory short form
(Hennessy et al., 2010), (v) Parenting Styles Questionnaire (PSI-II) (Benar &
Behrozi, 2012; Benar et al., 2012), (vi) Child-Rearing Practice Report (Chen et
al., 2008), (vii) Authoritative versus non-authoritative parenting instrument
(Schmitz et al., 2008) and (viii) one study did not report on the parenting styles’
assessment (King et al., 2010).
Regarding the methods of physical activity assessment in the studies reviewed:
(i) four studies used accelerometers to assess physical activity (Hennessy et al.,
2010; King et al., 2010; Oliver et al., 2011; Saunders et al., 2012), (ii) two used
an adapted version of the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (Berge et
al., 2010; Berge, Wall et al.,2010), (iii) additional two studies used the Physical
Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents (Benar & Behrozi, 2012; Benar et al.,
2012); the other studies used (iv) the Adolescent Physical Activity Recall
Questionnaire (Saunders et al., 2012), (v) self-reported measure of
walking/cycling (Saunders et al., 2012), (vi) the Family Nutrition and Physical
Activity Assessment (Johnson et al., 2012), (vii) 7-Day Physical Activity Recall
(Chen et al., 2008), (viii) two items self-rating of physical activity levels
(Schmitz et al., 2002) and (ix) Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance
Run (PACER) (Chen et al., 2008).
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 241
Discussion
This systematic review was carried out to examine the relationship between
parenting styles and physical activity. The review focused on studies conducted
internationally. Most of the studies reviewed were conducted in the United States
of America. The review showed that authoritative, authoritarian and permissive
parenting styles were positively related to the promotion of physical activity.
The relationship between parenting styles and physical activity indicates that
authoritarian parenting styles are related to frequent participation in organised
sport (Saunders et al., 2012), and an increase in moderate-to-vigorous activity
(MVPA). Moderate-to-vigorous activity Metabolic Equivalent’s (MET’s) was
found among boys where there was less authoritarian parenting styles (Chen et
al., 2008).
Authoritative and permissive parenting styles were negatively related to walking
and cycling (Saunders et al., 2012). However, in a bi-variable analysis the
relationship between authoritative parenting was associated with more moderate-
to-vigorous physical activity (Oliver et al., 2011). The results also suggest that
maternal authoritative parenting styles were related to higher physical activity
among girls (Schmitz et al., 2002). In addition, authoritative and permissive
parenting styles were found to co-occur with ‘modeling and encouraging health
behaviour’ that included the promotion of physical activity (Berge et al., 2010).
Neglectful paternal parenting styles were found to be associated with less
physical activity among their sons (Berge et al., 2010); however, a longitudinal
study found that there were associations between authoritative parenting styles
and walking/cycling, as well as MVPA and neglectful parenting, and the
duration as well as frequency of organised sport (Saunders et al., 2012).
Parenting styles play a role in the promotion/involvement of physical activity
among children as the various parenting styles have differing implications for
physical activity involvement. The results suggest that most studies found a
positive relationship between authoritative parenting styles and physical activity.
Authoritative parenting style is often associated with pro-social/socially
acceptable outcomes for children. Three of the studies suggest a positive
relationship between authoritative parenting and physical activity; Lee, Daniels
and Kissinger (2006) have also suggested that parenting that involves nurturing,
assistance and monitoring, which are characteristics that are consistent with
authoritative parenting, are associated with children’s positive health outcomes.
Often authoritarian and permissive parenting are associated with less positive
outcomes of children (Lee, Daniels & Kissinger, 2006) but this was not the case
in the results. For example, two studies found a positive relationship between
242 Davids and Roman
authoritarian parenting and physical activity (Berge et al., 2010; Saunders et al.,
2012). In addition, the results for the permissive parenting style were ambivalent,
with both positive and negative associations found between permissive parenting
and physical activity (Hennessey et al., 2012; Johnson et al., 2012).
Therefore, more research, which examines the associations of parenting styles
within the context of physical activity and its implications on children, is needed.
With the myriad of assessment tools available to evaluate physical activity, the
review intended to establish the measures that were most commonly used to
assess physical activity in studies that examined the association between
parenting styles and physical activity. The assessment of physical activity
suggests that two general types of measures were used: namely, (i) recall
measures and (ii) accelerometers. Recall measures have some shortfalls as they
are dependent on how the participants respond to the various items, and there is
the possibility that participants may not provide reliable responses when
partaking in the measurement of physical activity. In contrast, accelerometers
indicate the actual energy expenditure of the participants and are a more reliable
reflection of the participant’s physical activity levels and energy expenditure.
However, of the studies reviewed, the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise
Questionnaire (Berge et al., 2010; Berge, Wall et al.,2010) and Physical Activity
Questionnaire for Adolescents (Benar & Behrozi, 2012; Benar et al., 2012) were
the most commonly used recall measures. Similar to variations in assessing
physical activity, parenting styles, too, have been assessed in a number of ways
by different researchers. Therefore, the current review also attempted to establish
the most commonly used measures to assess parenting styles in studies that
examined the association between physical activity and parenting styles. The
results suggest that the most commonly used measures in the articles reviewed
were the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (Oliver et al., 2011;
Johnson et al., 2012) as well as parenting styles based on participants’ self-
reported characteristics.
Conclusion
The social environment often plays a significant role in the development of
certain behaviours and habits among children and adolescents. The home and
family environment are usually those to which children, adolescents and/or youth
are exposed. The growing rate of physical inactivity among young persons has
become a public health concern. This review examined the association between
parenting styles and physical activity to provide valuable information to health
professionals about the critical role that parenting plays.
Relationship between parenting styles and children’s physical activity 243
Notwithstanding that parenting plays an important role in influencing how young
person’s engage in and perceive their involvement in physical activity, it is
necessary that future interventions are focussed not only on children but also on
their parents.
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