Examination of Emotion Socialization in Early Childhood: Indian vs. U.S. White Families

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Virginia Tech


Parent emotion socialization (ES), the process through which caregivers influence the development and expression of emotions in their children, needs to be interpreted within a socio- cultural context. Given that current research has primarily been conducted in Western cultures, it is critical to examine parent ES among families from Eastern cultural backgrounds. The current study aimed to acquire empirical knowledge on ES goals, beliefs, and practices during early childhood (i.e., with toddlers and preschoolers) using parent-report and observational measures among urban Indian parents and White parents in the United States (US). Data was derived from two samples. Study 1 includes 77 parent-toddler dyads in the US (New York; n = 39) and India (Chennai, n = 38); study 2 includes 217 parents of preschoolers residing in India (native Indian parents, n = 98) and the US (White parents, n = 119). As hypothesized, Indian parents of toddlers and preschoolers endorsed more balanced (i.e. with collectivistic and individualistic components) socialization goals, had differing beliefs on the value and function of emotions, and exhibited some ES practices (i.e., minimization reactions and expressive encouragement) that differed in utility and functionality, compared to White families in the US. Results highlight the need for considering the specific settings in which emotions are expressed when examining ES in Indian contexts, and the importance of considering cultural diversity in examining parent ES beliefs and practices and their impact on child outcomes. The current study contributes to the emerging body of literature on ES during early childhood among urban Indian populations. Findings will facilitate more effective early intervention supporting young children's development in an Indian cultural context, setting them up for success in social, emotional, and academic domains.



parent emotion socialization, early childhood, India, social-emotional outcomes