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Timothy LaVigne, Betsy Hoza, Alan L. Smith, Erin K. Shoulberg and William Bukowski

We examined the relation between physical fitness and psychological well-being in children ages 10–14 years (N = 222), and the potential moderation of this relation by sex. Participants completed a physical fitness assessment comprised of seven tasks and a diverse set of self-report well-being measures assessing depressive symptoms, loneliness, and competence. Peers reported on social status and teachers rated adaptive functioning, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing symptoms. Multiple regression analyses indicated a significant association between physical fitness and psychological well-being for both boys and girls. Higher levels of physical fitness were associated with lower levels of peer dyadic loneliness and fewer depressive symptoms; greater cognitive, social, and athletic competence; greater feelings of self-worth; and better teacher reports of adaptive functioning. An interaction between internalizing and sex indicated a significant and negative association between physical fitness and internalizing symptoms for males only. No other moderation effects by sex were observed. Results suggest that physical fitness is associated with a range of well-being indicators for both boys and girls in this age group.

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Kathrin Wunsch, Anne Henning, Gisa Aschersleben and Matthias Weigelt

The end-state comfort (ESC) effect signifies the tendency to avoid uncomfortable postures at the end of goal-directed movements and can be reliably observed during object manipulation in adults, but only little is known about its development in children. The aim of the present paper is to provide a review of research on the ESC effect in normally developing children and in children with various developmental disorders, and to identify the factors constraining anticipatory planning skills. Three databases (Medline, Scopus, and PubMed) and relevant journals were scrutinized and a step-wise analysis procedure was employed to identify the relevant studies. Thirteen studies assessed the ESC effect in children, ranging from 1.5–14 years of age. Nine out of these thirteen studies reported the ESC effect to be present in normally developing children, but the results are inconsistent with regard to children’s age and the kind of ESC task used. Some evidence even suggests that these planning skills are intact in children with developmental disorders. Inconsistencies between findings are discussed in the light of moderating factors like the number of action steps, precision requirements, familiarity with the task, the task procedure, motivation, sample size, and age, as well as the cognitive and motor development of the participants. Further research is needed to investigate the onset and the developmental course of ESC planning, as well as the interdependencies with other cognitive abilities and sensory-motor skills.

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David Albines, Joshua A. Granek, Diana J. Gorbet and Lauren E. Sergio

We characterize bimanual coordination development for the first time in a large sample of children (n = 303) in relation to age, sex, and athletic experience. A further aim is to document the effect of these factors on development to indirectly gain insight into the neural processes that underlie this advanced level of eye–hand coordination. This was a cross-sectional design involving three age groups (range: 9–15 years) that were further separated by sex and level of athletic experience. Participants completed two bimanual tasks and a unimanual control task. While there was no significant change in unimanual movement speed, we observed that females performed the bimanual tasks faster, compared with males. Further, we found that select-level athletes had superior bimanual abilities. Lastly, we found an interaction of sex and skill across age. All groups achieved significant improvement in bimanual coordination with the exception of nonselect males. These data provide a description of normal bimanual coordination development in children during the developmentally crucial ages of 9–15 years, taking account of sex- and experience-related differences.

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Ken Martel

Despite significant advances in the development and performance of United States-born hockey players since the 1970s, room for improvement remains, especially when one compares the U.S. to its top international competition, much of which succeeds at the Olympic and World Championship level with dramatically smaller pools of talent from which to assemble its elite teams. USA Hockey sought to address this performance discrepancy and fulfill the full potential of American hockey through creation and implementation of its American Development Model (ADM), a nationwide reinvention of how hockey was taught at the grassroots level. Based on long-term athlete development principles and founded on sport science and proven child development best practices, the ADM represents a revolution in athlete and coach development. This paper explores the research that helped create USA Hockey’s ADM, along with the initiative’s methodology, execution and early outcomes.

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Megan MacDonald, Bridget Hatfield and Erica Twardzik

The hallmark characteristics of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are deficits in social communicative skills and the use of repetitive and/or stereotyped behaviors. In addition, children with ASD experience known motor-skill delays. The purpose of this study was to examine salient child behaviors of young children with and without ASD in 2 distinctly different play settings: a traditional social-play-based setting and a motor-behavior-based play setting. Child behavior (engagement toward parent, negativity, and attention) and dyad characteristics (connectedness) were examined in 2 distinctly different play settings. Results indicated that children with ASD performed more like their peers without ASD in a social-play-based setting and less like their peers in a motor-behavior-based play setting. Aspects of our results shed light on the critical need to develop creative methods of early intervention that combine efforts in all aspects of child development, including motor-skill development.

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Daniel Gould, Larry Lauer, Cristina Rolo, Caroline Jannes and Nori Pennisi

This study was designed to investigate experienced coaches’ perceptions of the parent’s role in junior tennis and identify positive and negative parental behaviors and attitudes. Six focus groups were conducted with 24 coaches. Content analysis of coaches’ responses revealed that most parents were positive influences and espoused an appropriate perspective of tennis, emphasized child development, and were supportive. In contrast, a minority of parents were perceived as negative, demanding and overbearing, and exhibiting an outcome orientation. New findings included parents’ setting limits on tennis and emphasizing a child’s total development, as well as the identification of behaviors that represent parental overinvolvement and that negatively affect coaching. Results are discussed relative to sport-parenting literature, and practical implications are outlined.

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Laura N. Desha, Jenny M. Ziviani, Jan M. Nicholson, Graham Martin and Ross E. Darnell

This study employed ordinal logistic regression analyses to investigate the relationship between American adolescents’ participation in physical activity and depressive symptomatology. Data were drawn from the second Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (CDS II), which was conducted over 2002-2003. Fewer than 60% of adolescents were found to accumulate 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) outside of school hours on week or weekend days. Accumulated duration of MVPA was not, however, significantly associated with severity of depressive symptoms for either gender. Males who were not involved in sporting clubs or lessons were more likely than males who were highly involved to experience greater severity of depressive symptoms (OR = 3.24, CI = 1.33, 7.87). Results highlight gender variability in the psychosocial correlates of sporting participation and prompt further investigation of the relevance of current physical activity guidelines for mental health in adolescence.

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Karen Howells

This article presents a reflective case example of a sport psychology consultation carried out with a 9-year-old gymnast during the final year of the consultant’s training to become a British Psychological Society–chartered sport psychologist. During this period of time, the author was under the supervision of an experienced applied sport psychologist. The article draws on the published research in applied sport psychology and the wider child development literature to inform and negotiate the challenges of a neophyte practitioner working in a relatively unfamiliar sport with a very young gymnast. The intervention, which took place over 6 months, involved a focus on psychological skills training. This article reflects on the intervention experience and makes observations that may be of benefit to both neophyte and practiced consultants working with very young children. Although the consultancy involved goal setting, relaxation, and commitment, the focus of this article is on those activities and skills that are specific to such a young athlete and that may be of interest to other practitioners in similar scenarios.

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Zeynep Isgor and Lisa M. Powell

Background:

Environmental factors may play an important role in the determination of physical activity behaviors.

Methods:

This study used the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the association between the availability of objectively measured commercial physical activity-related instruction facilities and weekly physical activity participation among high school students outside of school physical education classes. A Negative Binomial count model was used to examine the number of days of vigorous physical activity (at least 30 minutes/day) per week and a Probit model was used to examine the probability of frequent (4 or more days/week) vigorous physical activity participation.

Results:

The results indicated that an additional instruction school per 10,000 capita per 10 square miles was associated with an 8-percent increase in the weekly number of days of vigorous physical activity participation and a 4 percentage point increase in the likelihood of frequent physical activity participation for female adolescents only. By income, associations were larger for low- versus high-income female youths.

Conclusion:

Increased availability of local area physical activity-related instruction facilities may help to increase female high school students’ physical activity levels, particularly among low-income female students.

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Jason N. Bocarro, Myron Floyd, Robin Moore, Perver Baran, Tom Danninger, William Smith and Nilda Cosco

Background:

To better measure physical activity (PA) in outdoor environments, McKenzie and colleagues developed the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC). However, previous SOPARC research has focused on adults, seniors, teens and children. One avenue for extending this work is to expand the child age group code to capture important nuances that can influence children's PA and their environments. This study reports on the reliability of a measure designed to account for PA in parks among children in different childhood age groups.

Methods:

Three groups were developed: 0 to 5 years old (Young Children); 6 to 12 (Middle Childhood) and 13 to 18 (Older Children) based on Erikson's stages of child development. Data were obtained by direct observation in 3 neighborhood parks in Raleigh, NC and 20 neighborhood parks in Durham, NC.

Results:

Kappa coefficients showed high agreement for all age group, gender, and PA codes. For the 3 assessments, the results show that the 3 age group category exhibit acceptable reliability for measuring PA in parks among children.

Conclusions:

The reliability of measuring PA among children by segmenting children by 3 age groups was established. This approach is recommended for future studies of PA among children in parks and other outdoor environments.