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Perceptions of physical competence and intrinsic joy have been identified as 2 of the primary correlates and even predictors of physical activity and sedentary behavior for individuals of all ages. Developmental theories of competence motivation suggest that such self-perceptions may have their origins in the early childhood years and are formed on the basis of a whole range of social and environmental factors. However, it is likely that the primary influence during this early time period may be the attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors of significant adults with whom the child interacts. This paper identifies and discusses 3 ways in which important adults can exert an influence on young children’s perceptions of competence and intrinsic joy and, correspondingly, on their levels of physical activity and sedentary behavior. The paper ends with some recommendations for future research.
The author is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Health, Miami University, Oxford, OH.