Promoting Activities and Trajectories of Health for Children

Promoting Activities and Trajectories of Health for Children (PATH)

During early childhood, there are dramatic changes in self-regulation, or the ability to control behavioral impulses, manage emotions, and maintain focus and attention. Early self-regulatory capacities set the stage for an individual’s ability to control behaviors associated with later health outcomes, such as engaging in healthy eating practices and physical activity. Yet, associations of self-regulation and health-related behaviors (e.g., diet, exercise) have almost never been examined in young children.

Identifying early-life self-regulation skills may relate to emergent health behaviors is a critical step toward informing prevention efforts and developing interventions that directly address child self-regulation capacity as a mechanism of health behavior change. The PATH project seeks to engage self-regulation as an intervention target in a randomized cluster controlled trial (RCT) designed to enhance motor competence, perceived motor competence, and physical activity in preschoolers. Specifically, we will be assessing children’s self-regulation before and after participating in the physical activity promotion and motor competence intervention, the Children’s Health Activity Motor Program (CHAMP; L. Robinson, PI; R01HL132979). We will be testing the extent to which changes in child self-regulation as a result of CHAMP participation relate to changes in motor competence, perceived motor competence, and physical activity, behaviors that have been associated with reduced obesity risk, in a sample of preschool-aged children attending Head Start. We are using the Head Toes Knees and Shoulders [HTKS] assessment for self-regulation.

This project is being conducted in collaboration with Leah Robinson, PhD, in the School of Kinesiology and the Child Movement, Activity, and Developmental Health Lab.

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