Microregulatory patterns of family interactions: cultural pathways to toddlers' self-regulation

J Fam Psychol. 2006 Dec;20(4):614-23. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.20.4.614.


Pathways to children's self-regulation were examined in 2 cultures representing individualistic and collectivistic orientations. Family interactions were observed in 100 Israeli and 62 Palestinian couples and their firstborn child at 5 months and in a problem-solving task at 33 months. Patterns of gaze, affect, proximity, touch, and parental teaching strategies were coded. Child self-regulation was observed at child care locations. Among Israeli families, interactions involved face-to-face exchange, social gaze, object focus, and active touch in infancy and indirect parental assistance to toddlers. Among Palestinian families, interactions consisted of continuous contact, neutral affect, reduced negative emotionality, and concrete assistance. Levels of self-regulation were comparable and were predicted by culture-specific patterns. Social gaze, touch, and indirect teaching were found to predict self-regulation among Israeli toddlers; contact and concrete assistance were predictors among Palestinians. Discussion considers the ways early relational patterns mirror cultural philosophies on the self and differentially support self-regulation at the transition from family to the larger social context.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabs / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Israel
  • Jews / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle East
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Problem Solving
  • Social Values*
  • Socialization*