Parents’ Ethnotheories of Maladaptive Behavior in Young Children

Sheryl L. Olson, Jennifer E. Lansford, E. Margaret Evans, Katherine P. Blumstein, Ka I. Ip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Parents’ culturally influenced belief systems, or ethnotheories, are critical components of children’s socialization. Beliefs about children’s desirable characteristics motivate specific parenting activities and moderate the effectiveness of childrearing practices. However, relatively little attention has been given to parents’ ethnotheories of children’s undesirable behavior. From a few studies, we know that parents have culturally specific theories about the nature and management of children’s maladaptive behavior that motivate their socialization practices. In this review, we identify gaps in the research and suggest that qualitative studies of parents’ ethnotheories about the nature and management of children’s deviant behavior have strong theoretical, empirical, and practical benefits for developmental science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-158
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society for Research in Child Development


  • child deviance
  • ethnotheories
  • parenting beliefs


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