Children´s ideas about infant care: A comparison of rural Nso children from Cameroon and German middle class children

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Title: Children´s ideas about infant care: A comparison of rural Nso children from Cameroon and German middle class children
Authors: Lamm, Bettina
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Heidi Keller
Thesis referee: Jun.Prof. Dr. Susanne Haberstroh
Abstract: In this study, children s ideas about childcare were investigated cross-culturally, considering gender differences as well as developmental and cultural factors. Children between 4 and 8 years of age were interviewed. A rural Nso sample representing a prototypical interdependent context (N=72) and a German middle-class sample representing a prototypical independent context (N=64) were selected. Through the help of picture cards that showed children caring for babies, the children were asked to answer what aspects of care (e.g. primary care, body contact, or object stimulation) are most important and why they are important. Furthermore, the children were asked to elaborate on what they would like to teach a baby and how to react in certain situations, such as infant crying. It was assumed that the children s ideas reflect the characteristic model of childrearing of the respective cultural community. Older children were expected to express more elaborated ideas, but gender differences in the knowledge about infant care were not expected. Results indicate that the Nso and German children apply different caregiving models. The Nso model is characterized by multiple caregivers, co-occurring care, high sensitivity to negative infant signals, and a focus on body contact. The German model, on the other hand, was based on exclusive attention by the mother and distal parenting, such as object stimulation, face-to-face interaction, and vocal interaction. The German children s unexpected focus on primary care and motor development is discussed with respect to different practical caregiving experiences of the German and Nso children and varying sense of responsibility for infant care. Concerning age and gender differences, the hypotheses were predominantly confirmed. Finally, methodological challenges of cross-cultural research and of interviews with children are discussed, and perspectives for future research are presented.
Subject Keywords: ethnotheories; infant care; children; Nso; Cameroon; socialization; culture
Issue Date: 31-Jul-2008
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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