Sharing - Children Have A Fully Formed Sense Of Self Esteem By Age 5

~ Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 12:08 AM ~

I came across this article which I must definitely share with you guys as I'm very interested to know your thoughts on this. Do note that sharing this does not mean I agree or disagree with it. For your convenience, I have copied the excerpts from the article here:

Children have a sense of self-esteem comparable in strength to that of adults by the time they are five, researchers say. They found that the sense of self began earlier than previously thought. Because self-esteem tends to remain relatively stable across one's lifespan, the study suggests that this important personality trait is already in place before children begin kindergarten.

'Our work provides the earliest glimpse to date of how preschoolers sense their selves,' said lead author Dario Cvencek of the University of Washington. 'We found that as young as 5 years of age self-esteem is established strongly enough to be measured,' said Cvencek, 'and we can measure it using sensitive techniques.'

The new findings, published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, used a newly developed test to assess implicit self-esteem in more than 200 5-year-old children - the youngest age yet to be measured. 'Some scientists consider preschoolers too young to have developed a positive or negative sense about themselves.

'Our findings suggest that self-esteem, feeling good or bad about yourself, is fundamental,' said co-author, Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of I-LABS. 'It is a social mindset children bring to school with them, not something they develop in school.' Meltzoff continued: 'What aspects of parent-child interaction promote and nurture preschool self-esteem? That's the essential question.'We hope we can find out by studying even younger children.'

Until now no measurement tool has been able to detect self-esteem in preschool-aged children. This is because existing self-esteem tests require the cognitive or verbal sophistication to talk about a concept like 'self' when asked probing questions by adult experimenters.

'Preschoolers can give verbal reports of what they're good at as long as it is about a narrow, concrete skill, such as 'I'm good at running' or 'I'm good with letters,' but they have difficulties providing reliable verbal answers to questions about whether they are a good or bad person,' Cvencek said. To try a different approach, Cvencek, Meltzoff and co-author Anthony Greenwald created a self-esteem task for preschoolers. Called the Preschool Implicit Association Test (PSIAT), it measures how strongly children feel positively about themselves.

The task for adults works by measuring how quickly people respond to words in different categories.  Taken together, the findings show that self-esteem is not only unexpectedly strong in children this young, but is also systematically related to other fundamental parts of children's personality, such as in-group preferences and gender identity.

'Self-esteem appears to play a critical role in how children form various social identities. Our findings underscore the importance of the first five years as a foundation for life,' Cvencek said.

The researchers are following up with the children in the study to examine whether self-esteem measured in preschool can predict outcomes later in childhood, such as health and success in school. They are also interested in the malleability of children's self-esteem and how it changes with experience.

What do you think?

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