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From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development
equipped the nation is to respond to these issues. For children whose problems do not fall within the clinical range, early interventions to address regulatory behavior focused on “fixing” the environment to reduce demands on the child warrant serious attention to balance the current focus on “fixing” the child. It is also clear that focusing on young children 's relationships with adults and peers is a promising and complementary, yet poorly exploited, approach.
Finally, cultural dimensions of regulatory development have been neglected by most scientists and practitioners alike. Nevertheless, cultural values have a profound impact on how young children learn to interpret and express their emotions, and on the behaviors that are seen as appropriate in different circumstances. Cultural expectations about self-regulatory behavior can even affect the boundaries of what is considered “childhood.” The Yoruba, for example, define childhood in terms of self-reliance and no longer refer to children who can talk, walk, dress themselves, and do certain other things around the house as children (Zeitlin, 1996). These cultural dimensions have important yet unexplored implications for children whose home culture is not the same as the dominant culture in other settings they inhabit (e.g., child care, homes of friends, intervention programs) and for adults who work with diverse groups of young children and whose responses to their behaviors are highly contingent on their own cultural expectations.