How Culture Affects Childhood Development

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How Culture Affects Childhood Development

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Culture is one of the most important aspects in child development. It shapes experiences and greatly impacts on how a child develops. Through their respective cultures, children get to learn traits considered appropriate and those that are discouraged. Typically, the culture and society in which a child grows is the key determiner of the parenting styles and development milestones one is likely to face. For instance, self-esteem and independence are valued in some cultures while in some, strong connections and interdependence are preferred on the contrary.

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Another key aspect affecting child development is the parenting style which is also determined by the culture of the society. The parenting style a child is given is often the key determiner of development aspects like obedience, conformity, self-esteem and other social skills. Most often, the authoritative parenting style characterized by affection, parental limits and demands results into children with high self-esteem and important social skills and is mostly preferred by the modern American society. In other cultures, it is not a necessity. Authoritarian parenting on the other hand is often characterized by high value on obedience and conformity and mostly leads to the development of children who are highly obedient and also portray good social skills.

Other cultural aspects like class, race and stereotyping threats also have immense impacts child development. In a racialized society, children often learn the dynamics of racism and are as well taught the stereotypes alongside their races, the races of others and such often have strong long lasting impacts on their development. As such, for effective child development, there is the need for learning on how culture shapes it.

Temperament is also a development aspect highly influenced by culture. During childhood, much problems of individual variations are often resolved based on the cultural niche the children inhabit. In certain niches, problems associated with temperamental features are considered advantageous and are as a result promoted leading to temperamental individuals. In other cultures, such features are highly discouraged.

Parents and caretakers also play a key role in child development. Despite ensuring their safety and health, they help equip them with vital skills essential in their success as adults. By offering appreciation, love and acceptance, the caretakers and parents avail an intimate context for the protection and nurturing of personality development as the children grow. This helps ensure emotional, cognitive, social and physical development. They are also the key channels through which cultural values are transited to the children.

Recent research has also uncovered that warm, open and communicative relationships with appropriate limits among caretakers, parents and children leads to the development of children with high self-esteem and good performers in school. Such children also inhibit very minimal negative outcomes like drug use and depression. Also, cross-cultural variations in parenthood strongly influence the beliefs, attitudes, values and the traits of the children. For instance, in settings where much of children’s behavior is controlled by the parents, children are likely to have less behavioral problems compared to settings where the parents have less control of the children’s behavior.

In conclusion, culture plays a key role in childhood development and whatever is considered normal greatly varies from one culture to the other hence the varied personalities of individuals. This is the case with temperament which is accepted in some cultures while highly discouraged in others. Likewise, the relationship between the parents, primary caretakers and the children greatly influences their future personalities.

Works cited

  1. Bornstein, M. H., & Lansford, J. E. (Eds.). (2010). Cultural approaches to parenting. Psychology Press.
  2. Berry, J. W., Poortinga, Y. H., Breugelmans, S. M., Chasiotis, A., & Sam, D. L. (2011). Cross-cultural psychology: Research and applications (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. Oxford University Press.
  4. Super, C. M., & Harkness, S. (Eds.). (1997). The cultural structuring of child development: A comparative perspective. Cambridge University Press.
  5. Jensen, L. A., Arnett, J. J., McKenzie, J., & Tanner, L. (2017). The cultural nature of self-esteem: Implications for child and youth development. In Handbook of Positive Psychology in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (pp. 59-78). Springer.
  6. Triandis, H. C., & Suh, E. M. (2002). Cultural influences on personality. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 133-160.
  7. Whiting, B. B., & Edwards, C. P. (1988). Children of different worlds: The formation of social behavior. Harvard University Press.
  8. Harris, J. R. (2006). No two alike: Human nature and human individuality. WW Norton & Company.
  9. Georgas, J., Berry, J. W., van de Vijver, F. J., Kagitcibasi, C., & Poortinga, Y. H. (2006). Families across cultures: A 30-nation psychological study. Cambridge University Press.
  10. Lansford, J. E., Deater-Deckard, K., & Bornstein, M. H. (Eds.). (2019). Immigrant families in contemporary society. Guilford Press.

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