Sex Roles

pp 1–8 | Cite as

SKIPing Together: A Motor Competence Intervention Promotes Gender-Integrated Friendships for Young Children

  • Kelly Lynn MulveyEmail author
  • Sally Taunton Miedema
  • Alexandra Stribing
  • Emily Gilbert
  • Ali Brian
Original Article


Young children typically report primarily same-gender friendships across childhood. However, there is growing awareness of the benefits of gender-integrated friendships and gender integration in schools, especially for social-emotional domains. The current study tested whether Successful Kinesthetic Instruction for Preschoolers (SKIP), an evidence-based motor competence intervention led by physical education teachers, promotes gender-integrated friendships in preschool-aged children. Results documented that children (Mage = 47.38, SD = 6.21 months, range = 36.67–60.25 months) assigned to the SKIP condition (n = 56) as compared to a control free-play condition (n = 37) showed higher motor skill competence and were more likely to report gender-integrated friendships post intervention. Growth in girls’ reports of gender-integrated friendships, in particular, drove the intervention effect on gender-integrated friendships. These findings highlight one example of how motor competence interventions can also result in benefits in social-emotional domains.


Motor development Gender integration Friendships Cross-group Intergroup relations Preschool 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This research was conducted with IRB approval from the University of South Carolina and all participants assented to participant and had signed parental consent.

Conflict of Interest

We declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical EducationUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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