Role of Parents in the Development of a Child’s Self-Concept

Posted: November 27th, 2013

Role of Parents in the Development of a Child’s Self-Concept






Role of Parents in the Development of a Child’s Self-Concept

Parents are instrumental and influential in their child’s development. They influence the way children see themselves. Children who have a healthy self-concept are more confident and secure in their abilities. They accept themselves as they are and they are more independent, since they have a sense of self-worth. The family and other adults that surround the children determine their self-concept since they are the ones who teach them by the way they respond to them. Self-concept development is critical in the early stages of a child’s life and it continues through the adolescent years. As the children get older and more confident, they gradually stop relying on others to develop their self-concept. The positive emotional bond that parents have with their children leads to the development of a healthy self-concept. Parents can create this bond by showing love and warmth to their children through simple actions such as hugs and using reassuring words.

The psychosocial theory developed by Erikson noted the different stages of a child’s development. Erikson observed that parents are responsible for how their children perceived themselves and those around them, since they are the major influence in the children’s life. He noted that children have the need to feel independent. Children who always feel dependent on others doubt themselves and they do not believe that they can be successful. They usually feel that they have to ask for assistance all the time, and they are easily frustrated and discouraged. This ultimately affects their self-concept. Parents can assist their children in this area by teaching them to do some of the simple tasks, which will build up their self-confidence. It is important for children to have self-confidence since it will reassure them that they are doing the right thing. Parents can assign their children simple and less involving tasks around the house, such as keeping their toys away after playing and keeping things where they are supposed to be. As the child grows, the parents should change the task to fit the children’s abilities. This will make the child feel more independent and responsible.

Parents should encourage and reassure their children so that they do not doubt themselves. They should correct their children when they are wrong and should praise them when they do something right. Parents should show their children that they do not need to be perfect at what they do, since this will affect a child’s self-esteem when things do not work out as planned. They are the main social agents in a child’s life and whatever they do affects their children. The psychosocial theory asserts that children have the need to develop social skills and they often compare themselves with others, especially their peers. They like feeling that they can do something better than their friends. Parents should teach their children to develop social skills from an early age. Simple lessons such as sharing with others and accepting others as they are will enable the children to interact well with others and they will be able to develop their social skills (Shaffer, 2008). Children who have a healthy self-concept feel free to interact with others and they are not affected by other people’s opinions.

Behavioral theories emphasize the importance of environmental influence in child development. External environmental factors can influence the way children see themselves. Social interactions are important in the development of a child’s self-esteem, especially when the child is interacting with his or her significant other (Epstein, 1973). The significant other can be a parent, a teacher or any other person that influences the child at a particular point in his or her life. This can be in form of the media, the child’s caregivers and teachers, and other people who may interact with the child. Positive feedback from people is important to a child’s success. Children need to be told positive things about their abilities. Parents should ensure that they notice their children’s achievement, however small they may appear. Sometimes children receive negative feedback and negative messages from other people away from home. For instance, children who are sensitive about the way they look have a hard time accepting themselves. They might have a low self-concept when they see the media’s portrayal of preferred beauty. At other times, they might receive negative feedback about their abilities. This might come from their peers and teachers in school. Parents have the responsibility of ensuring that they teach their children not to dwell on such messages. They should teach their children how to accept themselves and have confidence in their abilities. When children receive positive feedback and messages constantly, they will not be affected by other people’s opinion (Oswalt, 2008). Parents should create a suitable environment for their children. It should be an environment where children feel free to develop their self-esteem.

Some parents are confused about the idea of self-concept. They do not know how they can instill it in their children. Parents should know that children are individuals with their own personalities and attributes. Some of the children have high self-concept and they are not affected by anything. They may receive negative messages and feedback but they do not let it affect their self-esteem. Other children are however very sensitive and they require reassurance. Parents cannot follow their children everywhere to make sure that they do not receive negative feedback. They cannot determine the type of environment that their children will experience, except from when they are at home. However, when they teach and train their children to develop a healthy self-concept, they are assured that the children will have a high self-esteem and this will enhance their self-confidence. It is important for parents to know what their children’s needs and preferences are. This will help them know how to deal with children with low self-concept.


Epstein, S. (1973). The self-concept revisited: or a theory of a theory. American Psychologist, 28, 404-414

Oswalt, A. (2008). Early childhood emotional and social development: identity and self-esteem. Retrieved from

Shaffer, R. D. (2008). Social and personality development. New York, NY: Cengage Learning

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