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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews research on the cultural organization of early and middle childhood, with particular reference to how parents’ cultural beliefs (parental ethnotheories) influence practices that define relationships within the family. The authors first consider the cultural construction of developmental agendas for early and middle childhood—the shared expectations that parents hold regarding what children should be able to learn and do at specific points in their development, then review several theoretical frameworks for the study of parents’ ideas, practices, and their effects on children’s activities and routines of daily life. An alternative approach is used, based on documenting, comparing, and analyzing research on particular samples of families within geographically defined culture areas and also considering the roles of fathers, siblings, and grandparents. The review also examines how children’s temperamental differences are differentially perceived and responded to across cultures. Avenues for future research are also suggested.

Keywords: early childhood, middle childhood, parenting practices, parental ethnotheories, culture, temperament, Asia, Africa, Europe, United States

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