Incorporating Emic Perspectives in Defining Social Competence: Validation of Parental Assessment of Peer Play Interactions at Home for Low-Income Chinese-Heritage Children

Abstract

Despite the rapid growth of the Chinese immigrant population in the United States, little is known about the social behaviors of Chinese-heritage, preschool-aged children. Among existing studies, most use White (often middle-income) parents as the normative group without considering how individuals of Chinese heritage (or individuals from other ethnic groups) might manifest culture-specific beliefs in their support of children’s social behaviors. To address the lack of culturally-relevant measures designed for the Chinese population, this study examined the construct validity of parental assessment of children’s peer play at home using the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scales-Parent Version (PIPPS-P). Construct validity was examined via exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, as well as through the use of a Chinese immigrant parent panel. Primary caregivers (N = 423) of preschool-aged children from predominantly low-income backgrounds were recruited from two northeastern cities. Results supported the existence of three distinct peer play dimensions. Results also provided culturally-nuanced information regarding items of the PIPPS-P for this Chinese immigrant combined sample. Correlational analyses further supported the construct validity of the PIPPS-P, with children’s play behaviors showing relations with emotion regulation and psychological adjustment variables. Both quantitative and panel findings suggested the need for future research to examine Chinese-heritage caregivers’ perspectives towards children’s play, particularly children’s disconnected play, and underscored the importance of having culturally and linguistically appropriate measures of children’s social behavior, adding to the call for engaging emic perspectives to inform research and practice.

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Data Availability

The data that were used for this study are available from the corresponding author, upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We wish to gratefully acknowledge the participating Head Start and preschool programs, teachers, and families in New York City and Boston who made this research possible. We also thank our research team members at New York University and Tufts University for their dedication to this project.

Funding

This study was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (funding opportunity numbers: HHS-2009-ACF-OPRE-YR-0004; Grant Number: 90YR0032; HHS-2017-ACF-OPRE-YR-1219; Grant Number: 90YR010601), awarded to the first and fourth authors, respectively.

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Contributions

Conceptualization: SH, L-WL, CM; funding acquisition, investigation, and data curation: SH, KC; methodology, formal analysis, writing—original draft preparation, and visualization: SH, L-WL; writing—review and editing, supervision, and resource: CM.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sunah Hyun.

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Conflict of Interest

Sunah Hyun and Katherine Cheung have received research grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. Otherwise, there are no relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the work reported in this paper.

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Hyun, S., Li, LW., McWayne, C.M. et al. Incorporating Emic Perspectives in Defining Social Competence: Validation of Parental Assessment of Peer Play Interactions at Home for Low-Income Chinese-Heritage Children. Early Childhood Educ J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01144-3

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Keywords

  • Head Start
  • Chinese immigrants
  • Child play
  • Socioemotional development