Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 491–502 | Cite as

Applying a Socioecological Model to Understand Preschool Children’s Sedentary Behaviors from the Viewpoints of Parents and Preschool Personnel

  • Suvi MäättäEmail author
  • Carola Ray
  • Gun Roos
  • Eva Roos


This study explored parents’ and preschool personnel’s opinions on factors influencing 3–5-year-old children’s sedentary behaviors by applying the socioecological model. Four focus group interviews with preschool personnel (N = 14) and six interviews with parents (N = 17) were conducted in autumn 2014. Two researchers independently analyzed the data. A key finding was that the factors influencing children’s sedentary behaviors were recognized at all levels of the socioecological model. Parents and personnel acknowledged that children’s age, gender, and personal characteristics had an influence on the incidence of sedentary behaviors. The physical and social environments at home and at preschool seemed to work in a synergetic way. Sedentary behavior was focused on screens at home because of the wide variety of screens available for children to use. On the other hand, the existence and use of screens in preschools were rare. The routines and structures of the daily agenda in preschool define the sedentary behaviors, and how much children sit is dependent on personnel’s motivation. Hurriedness and lack of rules at home increased children’s sedentary behaviors. Overall, the vast majority of the preschool personnel and parents shared an understanding that the children in their care were not sedentary. The findings of this study support the use of the socioecological model in shedding light on the sedentary behaviors of preschool children. Interventions targeted at diminishing preschool children’s sedentary behaviors should focus on different aspects of sedentary behaviors at home and at preschool.


Sedentary behavior Preschool Health behavior Children Early education 



The authors thank the preschools, the preschool personnel, and the parents for their participation in the DAGIS study and the staff for data collection. This study was financially supported by the Folkhälsan Research Center, the Juho Vainio Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland, and the Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation.

Author Contributions

SM participated in collecting and analyzing the data and drafted the manuscript. CR participated in collecting and analyzing the data and helped to draft the manuscript. GR assisted in analyzing the data and helped to draft the manuscript. ER helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suvi Määttä
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carola Ray
    • 1
  • Gun Roos
    • 2
  • Eva Roos
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Folkhälsan Research CentreHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.SIFO, National Institute for Consumer ResearchOsloNorway
  3. 3.Department of Public HealthUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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