Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Early Child Development and Care, 2016; doi 10.1080/03004430.2015.1132418


Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


This mixed methods study focused on the socialization goals for preschool-aged children among parents from three small-sized cities located in northeastern China. A total of 154 parents with preschool-aged children completed questionnaires measuring parental socialization goals for children’s social-emotional competence and academic achievement. Quantitative results showed that parents generally placed more importance on children’s social-emotional skills than academic skills. Ten mothers were selected from the sample and participated in a semi-structured qualitative interview to help understand reasons for parents’ prioritization of social-emotional wellbeing over academic performance. Four themes emerged, including parents’ concerns about children’s psychological wellbeing under excessive academic pressure, their desires to “protect” children’s childhood, their awareness of children’s individual differences in intelligence and talent in learning, and their belief that good grades did not guarantee future success in life. Our findings highlight the importance of using mixed methods to deepen understanding of contemporary Chinese parents’ childrearing ideologies.