Like most researchers, we see self-concept as an essentially social phenomenon. To develop a concept of the self, the child must take the self as an object and see it as others do. From the child's point of view, then, building a self-concept involves integrating self-perception with other people's perceptions. The child's self-concept is based on itself as each new element of information is chosen, interpreted and absorbed in the context of previous self-knowledge.
The self-concept is not a fixed or static entity; it is a dynamic structure. Some aspects of it change continuously in response to the current interaction of individual and social forces. To gain a better understanding of self-management and the range of variables involved, it is necessary to rationalize and integrate the main findings from the fields of self-theory, cognitive psychology, social learning theory, ego development and developmental psychology. As a professional, it is important to be flexible and think of alternative ways to interact positively with all families participating in your program.
The processes that underlie this self-understanding deserve intense empirical and conceptual scrutiny, since they are the basis of the way in which children develop an individual will or sense of purpose and of the way in which they realize both their separation and their connection with the social world. For example, children who weren't controlling enough tended to have neglectful parents who generally made little effort to promote performance or teach age-appropriate skills. Most recent research on self-understanding agrees that self-concept is not a unitary and monolithic structure, but that it is a multifaceted phenomenon, some of whose aspects change continuously. Therefore, in middle childhood, children become acutely aware of the social forces that influence behavior and of the benefits of behaving in accordance with them.
This is an excellent opportunity to build resilience and help children learn the importance of perseverance and effort. This allows the child to be socialized quickly to develop both the self and the social knowledge needed to become a member of society. As for the Kohlberg stages, women tend to be in lower stages than men because of their orientation towards compassion. Between the ages of 5 and 12, children shape their sense of self based on their ability to perform and master the skills that important people in their lives or themselves value.
For example, a child in a family with three other children may have to adopt the perspective of another much sooner than an only child. However, most black children interact primarily with other black children, and their self-evaluations, based on comparisons with their relevant social group, do not create in them a minority or low-status view of themselves. Studies suggest that children who have been sexually abused have a higher risk of eating disorders and sleep disorders. In addition, sexual abuse can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ruble (in press) found that young children (under 7 years old), when asked to describe their performance on a task, used an absolute statement that indicated how well they did on a particular task. These tasks shape self-concept in important ways, and the growth of the content and function of self-concepts in school-age children depends fundamentally on how these tasks are approached and completed.
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