An inner picture of health as a factor in changing a child’s behavior to health-promoting behavior.
Background. An inner health picture (IPH) includes a person’s image of him- or herself as healthy, and knowledge of the methods needed to achieve the behavior necessary to maintain his (her) health. The IPH of a preschooler is formed by his (her) parents, and the high level of physical activity which is needed for supporting his (her) IPH could change a child’s capacity to orient in sensory flow.
Objectives. The objectives of this study were twofold: 1) to compare the children’s IPH with that of their parents, and 2) to study the connection between a child’s IPH with his (her) capacity to recognize consistent patterns in the structure of a stream of sensory signals.
Design. 82 primary school children and their mothers participated in the study. The study was conducted in two stages. During the first stage, the internal picture of health (IPH) of the children and their parents was evaluated by means of a questionnaire. To describe a child’s ability to discern some kind of order in a stream of sensory signals, the models of simple and complex sensorimotor reactions were used.
Results. Parents whose children have a well-developed IPH steer their children toward a healthy lifestyle, whereas they themselves do not do what is necessary to maintain their own health. The process of developing an IPH is accompanied by an increase in control during performance of a serial reaction task, which is reflected in a decrease in the number of lapses or missed stimuli.
Conclusion. An IPH is an internal mental model that not only predetermines a child’s notion of themselves as a healthy person; it also has a psychological basis in the form of a system that strengthens the child’s control over his (her) own actions.
Keywords: an internal picture of health, simple and complex sensorimotor reactions, primary school children