The perceived meaning of occupations among children: correlations with children's socio-emotional characteristics and executive functions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Participation in meaningful occupations within our everyday environments contributes to health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to study perceived meaning and its inter-related factors. The perceived meaning of occupations is the emotional and cognitive qualities people attach to their occupations. However, research on the perceived meaning of occupations among children is limited. The meaning of occupations may be related to personal factors concerning the child. Hence, this study aimed to assess the correlations between socio-emotional characteristics and executive functions of typically developing children and their perceived meaning of occupations—value, challenge, and sense of time and autonomy. Methods: A cross-sectional study comprising 80 children (6–13 years old) and their parents was conducted. The parents completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function. The children completed the Perceived Meaning of Occupation Questionnaire and the Verbal Working Memory test. Results: Children with higher scores on the SDQ—internalised behaviours and lower working memory—perceived their everyday activities as more challenging (r =.300, r = −.244, p <.05, respectively). Children with higher scores on the SDQ—prosocial behaviours—attached higher value to their everyday activities (r =.23, p <.05). However, increases in executive function difficulties were found to decrease the perceived value (r =.24, p <.05) and to alter the perceived sense of time (r =. 27, p <.05). Conclusions: The meaning children attach to their everyday activities changes when they experience socio-emotional and executive difficulties. Therefore, to inspire positive meaning of occupations among children, practitioners should consider the child's socio-emotional and cognitive strengths and difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-580
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Volume67
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • child behaviour
  • executive function
  • occupational therapy
  • occupations

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