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Keywords:

  • Child;
  • Health;
  • Parents;
  • Preschool;
  • Qualitative

Abstract

Aim:  To explore parents’ perspectives on providing their preschool child with a healthy lifestyle, including obstacles and resources.

Methods:  Five semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted, with 30 parents of 4-year-olds in Sweden. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using Systematic Text Condensation.

Results:  Four themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: Lifestyle –‘The way you live is parents’ responsibility’, Challenges to promote children’s healthy lifestyle, Support from professionals, and peers might facilitate, and Request for an overall responsibility from society. Parents felt that they were role models for their child’s lifestyle, a concept including many factors. Attractive and tempting sedentary activities and unhealthy foods were perceived as obstacles, and parents were frustrated by the media’s contradictory lifestyle messages. Child health services were expected to more actively invite parents to discuss their child’s lifestyle issues. Parents desired some collective responsibility for children’s lifestyles through agencies, services and media messages that support and promote healthy choices.

Conclusion:  Parents struggled to give their children a healthy lifestyle and the ‘temptations’ of daily unhealthy choices causing hassles and conflicts. Parents desired professional support from preschool, Child Health Care and a collective responsibility from society with uniform guidelines. Parents groups were mentioned as peer support.