Implications of Chinese and American mothers' goals for children's emotional distress

Janice Ng, Yu Xiong, Yang Qu, Cecilia Cheung, Florrie Fei-Yin Ng, Meifang Wang, Eva M. Pomerantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research examined a cultural socialization model in which differences in Chinese and American parents' goals for children foster differences in children's emotional distress via parents' responses to children's performance. Chinese and American mothers and their children (N = 397; Mage = 13.19 years) participated in a 2-wave study spanning a year. Mothers reported on their self-improvement (i.e., children striving to improve) and self-worth (i.e., children feeling worthy) goals, as well as responses to children's performance. Children reported on their emotional distress (e.g., anxiety and depression). Chinese (vs. American) mothers' greater endorsement of self-improvement goals predicted their more frequent use of failure-oriented responses (e.g., highlighting children's mistakes), which accounted for Chinese (vs. American) children's heightened emotional distress over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2616-2629
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2019


  • China
  • Culture
  • Emotional distress
  • Parenting
  • Responses to performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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