Child and Mother Play in Three U.S. Cultural Groups: Comparisons and Associations

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Abstract

Child and mother play (n = 113 20-month-olds) among South American Latino immigrants, Japanese immigrants, and European Americans in the United States was investigated. Culturally universal patterns of play dominated the findings. For example, no cultural differences in the prevalence of exploratory or symbolic play were found for either children or their mothers. Regardless of their culture, boys engaged in significantly more exploratory and less symbolic play than did girls when they played by themselves. Few relations were found between child play in the two play sessions. Across cultural groups, children's exploratory play was significantly positively related to both maternal demonstrations and solicitations of exploratory play. The results identify which realms of child growth, parenting, and family function call for special attention and cultural sensitivity, as well as which do not, in the dynamics of immigrant families.

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