“Who am I?” is a question many ask themselves. When asking this question, you are questioning your self-concept. Self-concept is an individual’s sense of self, including self-definition in the various social roles one enacts, including assessment of one’s own status with respect to a single trait or to human dimensions, using societal or personal norms as criteria.
We begin our lives as infants unaware of our individuality. According to Charles Darwin, self-awareness begins when we recognize ourselves in the mirror as infants. At around 6 months, an infant still thinks the person in the mirror is in fact another person. As a child reaches a year old, he or she begins to recognize their reflection and respond to their name. With the help of the primary caregiver, at this age a child also begins to make the connection to significant people and not fear being with them.
Self-concepts continue to develop as one gets older. A child begins to crawl, walk, and talk; exploring this big world persistently. They are determined to accomplish any task and love the attention they get from others. Once they begin to accomplish things, they also begin to do things on their own. Children insist on not getting help from others to validate that they can do it on their own, giving a sense of achievement. Soon after, a child progresses with language with an ever-growing vocabulary to express him or herself and to get what they need and want.
By preschool, age three or four, a child is well aware of their self. They begin to compare themselves with other children. They are conscious of their gender, psychological traits, group memberships, and similarities and differences compared with other children (Meyers, 188). As they grow into teenagers, peer pressure and society can affect their image and how they view themselves. Once a child has grown into their own individual, they determine the view they have on themselves whether positive or negative; high or low. This is called self-esteem, the extent to which you value yourself.
Coopersmith, S. (1967). The antecedents of self-esteem. San Francisco: Freeman.
Myers, David G. Psychology Tenth Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2013. Print.
Stedman’s Medical Dictionary 28th Edition, Copyright© 2006_Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.