The role of the family and culture on toddler's developing self-concept: A focus on pride and shame, autonomy, and compliance

Fabiana S DesRosiers, Fordham University


The objective of this study was to examine the self-concept development of toddlers and the relationship between cultural beliefs, parenting behaviors and children's self-concept. Three self-concept domains were studied: self-assertion (autonomy), self-evaluation (pride and shame), and self-regulation (compliance). The sample consisted of 60 low-income Mexican-American mothers and their toddlers, aged 18-48 months. Mothers filled out questionnaires regarding level of acculturation, developmental expectations for their child, and self-concept behaviors of their child. Children played with the experimenter in a structured, videotaped play session that observed self-concept behaviors. The session ended with a clean-up task where both mother and child behaviors were observed. Results on the developmental age trends showed that each of the self-concept domains had quadratic trends. That is, self-concept increased until approximately 3 years of age and then began to decrease. The developmental progression indicated that autonomy consistently preceded pride. However, the placement of compliance for this sample was inconsistent, which was likely due to the cultural beliefs of Hispanics. Multiple regressions were done to assess the relationship between parenting behaviors, such as discipline, nurture, physical, verbal, and negative behaviors, and the child's self-concept. Results showed that discipline predicted child's self-concept behaviors, other parent behaviors were not predictive of child's self-concept. Discipline is indistinguishable from nurturing and is part of Hispanic parenting. In addition, results did show that as child's age increased, mother's use of physical behaviors decreased and their use of verbal behaviors increased. Contrary to expectations, mothers' developmental expectations for child's compliance and independence were not related to their use of parenting behaviors, indicating that parents' beliefs are not necessarily related to parents' behaviors. Furthermore, mother's expectation for compliance, but not independence, was related to their level of acculturation. The present study provided evidence of three distinct domains in self-concept and the developmental sequence needs further verifying for a Hispanic population. The influence of family and culture is important in children's development as this study provided the foundation in this area. Future research should examine the prevalence of discipline and how it is defined and how it relates to toddler's compliance in Hispanics.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

DesRosiers, Fabiana S, "The role of the family and culture on toddler's developing self-concept: A focus on pride and shame, autonomy, and compliance" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9825870.