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Research Article  |   July 2001
Toddlers’ Persistence in the Emerging Occupations of Functional Play and Self-Feeding
Author Affiliations
  • Sally J. Bober, MS, OTR/L, is Project STIR Coordinator, Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, CB# 7255, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7255; sally.bober@cdl.unc.edu
  • Ruth Humphry, PhD, OTR/L, is Professor, Division of Occupational Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Heather West Carswell, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Frye Regional Medical Center, Hickory, North Carolina
  • Amanda J. Core, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Backus Children’s Hospital, Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah, Georgia
Article Information
Children and Function
Research Article   |   July 2001
Toddlers’ Persistence in the Emerging Occupations of Functional Play and Self-Feeding
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2001, Vol. 55, 369-376. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.4.369
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2001, Vol. 55, 369-376. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.4.369
Abstract

Objective.This descriptive study explores motivation of toddlers who are typically developing to persist with challenging occupations.

Method.The persistence of 33 children, 12 to 19 months of age (M = 15.7 months), in functional play and self-feeding with a utensil was examined through videotape analysis of on-task behaviors.

Results.A modest correlation was demonstrated between the percentages of on-task time in the two conditions (r = .44, p < .01). Although chronological age was not associated with persistence, participants’ age-equivalent fine motor scores were correlated with persistence with challenging toys (r = .39, p < .03) but not with self-feeding with a utensil. Having an older sibling was associated with longer periods of functional play, t(32) = 3.02, p < .005, but the amount the parent urged the child to eat with a utensil was not associated with persistence in self-feeding.

Conclusion.The modest association between on-task time for functional play and self-feeding with a utensil reveals that factors other than urge to meet perceptual motor challenges lead to children’s persistence. The results reinforce the importance of considering not only challenging activities, but also the experienced meaning that elicits optimal effort and, thus, learning.