Study Shows That Russian Parents Are More Likely to Give Their Children Stories With Negative Emotions

In Education

A study from North Carolina State University compared the differences between going up in Russia and the U.S. The team looked at the decisions parents in both countries made. They also looked at children’s literature.

American parents focussed on light-hearted stories

 The researchers discovered that American parents were less likely to tell their children stories with negative emotions such as sadness, fear, or anger than Russian parents. They instead told them light-hearted stories that looked at the positive aspects of life.

 According to Amy Halberstadt, a study co-author and professor of psychology and North Carolina State University, American parents emphasize positive feelings.

Yulia Chentsova-Dutton, another study co-author and associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University, adds that Russian parents value all emotions, including negative ones. Children must learn all of them. She adds that the stories children hear contribute to the emotions they value.

How researchers conducted the study

The team gathered 322 parents with children under ten. About 72 of the parents had been born in America and lived there. Another 72 were born in Russia and lived in America. However, the last 178 were born and lived in Russia.

The researchers found that the parents read books that emphasized ten different emotions. They concluded that four of the emotions were negative while six were positive.

A graduate at the University of Kentucky, Anita Adams, explained that the parents didn’t display any differences in the frequency they read about positive emotions. Russian parents, on the other hand, also read more books that had negative emotions.  Russian-American parents feel in-between.

Russian parents seemed to focus more on teaching their children about sadness.

 The researchers also evaluated 40 books for pre-school children from America and 40 from Russia. They found that the Russian books covered a more diverse set of emotions. They called about happiness, sadness, fear, and anger more frequently than American books.

The researchers concluded that Russian and Americans teach their children about emotions differently. As a result, Russian parents discussed more challenging emotions with their children. 

The team suggests that other studies look into how these differences give children tools for navigating challenging emotions.

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