Derek Paterson’s MA Thesis Proposal

Title: “A temporal exploration of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on parenting practices towards children’s movement behaviours”

Supervisor: Dr. Guy Faulkner
Committee members: Dr. Mark Beauchamp, Dr. Louise Mâsse

Abstract: Since the introduction of lockdown measures, there has been widespread evidence of significant impacts on the physical activity behaviours of school-aged children alongside rises in screen-based sedentary behaviours (Paterson et al, 2021). The largely descriptive nature of this body of evidence suggests the need for theoretical perspectives to explain these observed behaviour changes. A recent line of inquiry has found that the strategies used by parents to influence their child’s movement behaviours, referred to as parenting practices, have been associated with child physical activity (Hutchens & Lee, 2018) and sedentary behaviour (Samaha & Hawi, 2017; Verloigne et al, 2012; He et al, 2010). Given these prior associations and the ongoing, pervasive restrictions imposed upon families, there is a sound theoretical basis to explore changes to parenting practices and behaviours as an avenue for understanding pandemic-induced changes in children’s movement behaviours (Davison et al, 2013). Additionally, the pandemic, acting as a natural experiment, offers an opportunity to enhance understanding of parenting practices and how they are shaped by ecological factors via its profound effects on the functioning of communities. The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of the pandemic on parenting practices and examine the extent to which they are malleable in response to temporally changing circumstances. One-on-one semi-structured interviews with parents of school-aged children (aged 7-11) in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia (Canada) will be conducted in order to facilitate comparison of the relative impacts of regional differences in restrictions. A narrative thematic analysis will be undertaken to explore patterns and differences within and between cases through sequentially organized narratives. The findings of this study will contribute to the evidence on the longer term impact of the pandemic on children’s movement behaviours and the potential development and revision of theoretical models of parenting practices.