This essay focuses on European-American and Chinese children. How might these different parenting styles affect how children develop
to be followed. Similarly, Chinese mothers are more likely to lead the interactions and introduce the topics, while the children learn to take after their mother’s lead (Haight, 1999; Wang, 2001; Wang, Leichtman, & Davies, 2000). How might these different parenting styles affect how children develop? It would seem that the North American children
come to learn that they are independent agents to which their mothers respond, whereas the Chinese children learn that they are relational beings who need to respond to their mothers. There is some evidence for this. In one study, for example, young European-American and Chinese children ages 3 to 8 were interviewed to ask about themselves and their early memories (Wang, 2004).
the American children were more likely to describe themselves with individualistic statements about their own qualities and preferences (e.g., “I like hockey” or “I’m a very smart person”) and were less likely to describe themselves with collectivistic statements (e.g., “I am from Albany” or “I am in the second grade”; we’ll explore this point in more detail in Chapter 6). American children were also less likely to refer to others when describing themselves, compared with the Chinese children. By an early age, then, children in different cultures are socialize to differentially attend to either individualistic or collectivistic aspects of themselves. Other research finds that North American mothers are more likely to discuss their child’s successes and positive
with them, thereby emphasizing what the child is able to accomplish. In contrast, Chinese mothers are more likely to call attention to their child’s mistakes and transgressions, thereby elaborating on how the child needs to change to fit in better (Miller, Wiley, Fung, & Liang, 1997; Wang, 2001). Indeed, Amy Chua regularly directed her children’s attention to where they weren’t doing well enough. How do you think these early experiences might shape the way children tend to view themselves? Mothers play an important role in socializing their children to develop culturally appropriate ways of viewing themselves. And, as we have seen, mothers go about socializing their children in different ways across cultures. Noun Biases Another window into the early experiences of childhood is through language learning.