Self-Esteem and Self-Concept

Self-esteem: “feelings of self-worth developing from an individual’s beliefs about being valuable, capable, lovable, and worthwhile” (Petersen and Wittmer, p. 76)

Self-concept: “collection of beliefs that the child has of him or herself” (Petersen and Wittmer, p. 76)

Both self-esteem and self-concept are crucial aspects of early childhood development. Children who establish high self-esteem and positive self-concepts are found to be more successful socially and emotionally, better independent problem-solver, and have high levels of confidence.

The environment’s physical features and emotional climate play an important role in determining children’s development of self-esteem and self-concept.


There are a number of certain things caregivers can do to encourage the development of positive self-esteem and self-concept:

  • Acknowledge the need for self-esteem
  • Respect and encourage uniqueness and curiosity
  • Allow children to move and explore
  • Give children challenging activities and support them in problem-solving
  • Acknowledge children’s level of sensory learning
  • Help children to build upon previous learning experience


If children successfully develop good levels of self-esteem, this will promote their motivation: “biological drive that each person is born with to live, learn, and evolve” (Petersen and Wittmer, p. 78). Motivation can extend into all aspects of a child’s life, it is their want to achieve and it is a very good drive to have to promote emotional well-being.

Source: Petersen, Sandra H., and Donna S. Wittmer. Infant and Toddler Curriculum, 2nd Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. VitalBook file.


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