Children's Self-Concept Development

Question: Discuss the development of children’s self-concept and discuss the social factors that influence its development

There are many different definitions of self-concept the Social Psychologists Baumeister (1991) stated that self-concept refers to “the individual’s belief about himself or herself, including the person’s attributes and who and what the self is.” It is widely believed that a person’s - self-concept is something that continues to grow throughout childhood all the way through to adolescence, and that numerous social factors can have an influence on the development of one’s self-concept, especially within the early stages of childhood development. It is within this essay that those factors will be discussed with the outcome of understanding which, if any, hold the most influence on the development of children’s self-concept.
Infants are not given a self-concept by their parents or culture, instead it is something they find and construct themselves. This theory helps to explain why every child’s self-concept is different because it is defined and created by what goes on around them in everyday life. During early infancy children are yet to have developed a sense of self, initially they are unable to understand themselves as their own separate beings with characteristics of their own. Lewis and Brooks-Gunn (1979) suggests that this development of self is made up of two concepts; the existential self which is the first to appear in the formation of a self, where the child has a primitive sense of separateness usually evident at 3 months. By 9 months a sense of continuity has begun to develop, this awareness arises partly due to the connection the child has with the outside world. Watson (1994) finds that infants show a preference for ‘imperfect contingency’, this is uncharacteristic of the self’s actions, but typical of interactions with both others and the natural world E.g., the child smiles and someone smiles back. This has the effect of...