Physical Activity Play and Preschool Children's Peer Acceptance: Distinctions Between Rough-and-Tumble and Exercise Play

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Two forms of exercise play (toy mediated and non-mediated) and 2 forms of rough-and-tumble (R&T) play (chase and fighting) were examined in relation to preschoolers’ peer competence. A total of 148 preschoolers (78 boys, 89 Euro-Americans) were observed during free play at their university-sponsored child care center. The gender makeup of children’s play companions (same gender, other gender, or mixed gender) as well as the type of play that children engaged in was recorded. Sociometric interviews assessed how well liked children were by their classmates. Analyses revealed that toy-mediated exercise play with mixed-gender and same-gender peers was associated with boys’ and girls’ peer acceptance. Girls’ non-mediated exercise play and boys’ R&T chasing was associated with peer acceptance. Boys who engaged in R&T fighting with samegender peers were better liked by peers, whereas boys who engaged in R&T chasing with othergender peers were not liked by peers. Practice or Policy: The results suggest that child gender and the gender of one’s playmate are important factors in associations between physical activity play and peer acceptance.

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  • Eric W. Lindsey

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