Contemporary Chinese parents’ socialization priorities for preschoolers: a mixed methods study

Lixin Ren*, Carolyn Pope Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


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 well-being over academic performance. Four themes emerged, including parents’ concerns about children's psychological well-being 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’ child-rearing ideologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1779-1791
Number of pages13
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • academic skills
  • Chinese parents
  • preschoolers
  • social-emotional skills
  • socialization goals


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