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Culture-specific links between maternal executive function, parenting, and preschool children’s executive function in South Korea

Background Research on the relationships between parental factors and children’s executive function (EF) has been conducted mainly in Western cultures. Aim This study provides the first empirical test, in a non-Western context, of how maternal EF and parenting behaviours relate to child EF. Sample South Korean mothers and their preschool children (N = 95 dyads) completed EF tasks. Method Two aspects of parental scaffolding were observed during a puzzle task: contingency (i.e., adjusting among levels of scaffolding according to the child’s ongoing evidence of understanding) and intrusiveness (i.e., directive, mother-centred interactions). Results and Conclusions Maternal EF and maternal contingency each accounted for unique variance in child EF, above and beyond child age, child language and maternal education. Maternal intrusiveness, however, was not significantly related to child EF. Additionally, no mediating role of parenting was found in the maternal and child EF link. However, child language was found to partially mediate the link between maternal contingency and child EF. These results complement prior findings by revealing distinctive patterns in the link between maternal EF, parenting behaviours, and child EF in the Korean context.