The Development of Self: Theoretical Understandings and Conceptual Underpinnings

Gail M. Houck, Adele M. Spegman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The importance of the development of self (self-concept, self-esteem, and autonomy) is widely recognized, yet health care providers for infants and their families are typically more concerned with enhancing parenting and optimizing later cognitive and emotional outcomes than fostering the development of self. This article describes the theoretical orientations that frame current understandings about the development of self and the social processes that may shape it. Components of the self are discussed, and current thinking about their development in infancy and toddlerhood is described. The role of temperament is addressed, and social competence is considered as the integration and manifestation of these self components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInfants and Young Children
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • Development
  • Infancy
  • Self
  • Self-concept
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-regulation
  • Toddlerhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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