Chinese mothers’ and fathers’ involvement in toddler play activity: type variations and gender differences

Xunyi Lin*, Sha Xie, Hui Li

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    The present study explores the constructs of Chinese mothers’ and fathers’ engagement in toddlers’ play in the daily context. A sample of 238 parents of toddlers (M = 30.43 months, SD = 3.45) completed a newly-developed instrument, the Chinese Parental Involvement in Toddler Play Activity Questionnaire (CPITPAQ), to report their play engagement. First, factor analyses yielded four constructs: physical play, social games and routines, educational play, and object exploration. Second, a set of ANOVAs indicated that: (1) the mothers engaged in toddlers’ play more than the fathers; (2) both mother and father involved themselves more in toddler’s educational play than in other types of play; and (3) fathers and mothers demonstrated different patterns of play engagement with their daughters and sons–specifically, fathers engaged sons more in physical play and object exploration, while mothers engaged daughters more in social games and routines. The finding of differentiated play practices of Chinese mothers and fathers of toddlers will inform the theoretical development of parental education and related programmes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-190
    Number of pages12
    JournalEarly Child Development and Care
    Issue number2
    Early online date13 Nov 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • toddler play
    • Chinese parents
    • paternal involvement
    • sociocultural perspectives
    • gender difference


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