Applied Psychology OPUS

Latino Parenting Practices and Preschoolers' Self-Regulation Skills

Gabrielle Gunin

Faculty Mentor | Dr. Gigliana Melzi

Parenting practices are critical in the development of self-regulation during early childhood, and particularly during the preschool years. Extant research with low-income communities, however, is limited as it examines parenting mostly through self-report. Further, less is known about the self-regulation development of Latino children than any other ethnic minority in the United States, even though 25% of children under the age of 5 are Latino. Thus, the present study explored parenting practices through observational and survey measures, and preschoolers’ self-regulation through direct assessment. 21 mother/child dyads were recruited from Head Start centers in New York City. All mothers self-identified as Latino, and about half (n = 12) had attained an education beyond high school. Data were analyzed in relation to cultural conceptualizations of parenting. All mothers adhered most to the authoritative parenting style, blending values such as respect from their native culture and autonomy granting from the dominant culture. Mothers of Puerto Rican descent were less authoritative than mothers from other Latino origins, and their children had stronger self-regulation. Future research should continue utilizing mixed-method designs in capturing the parenting practices of Latino mothers living in the United States. Researchers suggest that understanding more about the link between parenting and self-regulation can bridge the achievement gap experienced by Latino children.