Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

September 2008


Copyright 2008 Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools University of Nebraska-­Lincoln


Parental behavior during a child’s first five years of life is critical for the development of important social and cognitive outcomes in children that set the stage for life-long adaptation and functioning. This chapter will review some of the key findings about the importance of parent-child relationships in early learning. Three dimensions of parent behavior will be described as “parental engagement”: (a) warmth and sensitivity, (b) support for a child’s emerging autonomy, and (c) active participation in learning. Cross-cultural variations in which the styles of these behaviors are expressed will also be considered.