Study on Traditional Parenting and Child Care Practices in Zambia: Final Report
The first years of a child’s life are crucial for their cognitive, emotional, social, behavioral, and physical development. Recognizing the importance of early childhood development (ECD), the Zambian government has committed to scaling up ECD programs that support health, nutrition, and early learning/stimulation for children.
Research shows that children need safe and healthy environments, sensitive and responsive caregivers, opportunities to develop oral language and communication skills, support for social-emotional development, and positive and respectful guidance to develop optimally. Because of this, an understanding of the traditional cultural context in which children develop is critical not only to ensure child-sensitive and responsive programs but also to foster optimal and healthy child development through harnessing local resources.
UNICEF partnered with AIR and researchers from the University of Zambia to gather data on traditional parenting and child care practices across diverse cultures in Zambia and assess these data against current scientific evidence of ECD to determine which traditional parenting practices may contribute or be detrimental to children’s development. The researchers conducted interviews and focus groups respondents with mothers, fathers, other caregivers (neighbors, aunties, grandparents, and other relatives), community leaders, and service providers.
These findings will inform the development or adaptation of parent education and support services and ultimately ensure these services leverage existing traditional practices that promote the healthy physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of children.