sealPurdue News _____

November 1997

Parents play a major role in developing children's self-concept

A 5-year-old child already has developed about 80 percent of his or her self-concept, says Janet Gordon, a Purdue University Cooperative Extension specialist in consumer and family sciences. So parents play a big role in the development of how their children view themselves. "Parents often get hung up on tasks," Gordon says. They measure a child's success by developmental stages, such as when the child starts walking or talking. "More attention should focus on how a child feels about himself or herself," she says. Positive discipline, communication and interaction all help contribute to the development of a positive self-concept. According to Judy Myers-Walls, Purdue associate professor of child development and family studies, one way to improve self-concept is by helping children set reasonable goals, so they can celebrate small successes. She says goals should be individual, based on past performance, and have an end in sight. Children also should be encouraged to praise themselves and others. CONTACTS: Gordon, (765) 494-8252; Myers-Walls, (765) 494-2959; e-mail,

Compiled by Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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