Evolution of self-concept in the child and his own identity

The knowledge of oneself is one of the most sought after acquisitions by the human being. In this sense, we call self-concept the characteristics that we use to describe ourselves.

The personality and, therefore, the idea that we have of ourselves, varies depending on aspects as varied as the body itself, the own behavior or the situation and social relationships. In the case of the newborn, he is hardly aware that he himself has a different body from the other existing realities, that is, that he has not yet conceived of himself.

During the first two years, children build existential identity , that is, the child realizes that he has an existence independent of the existence of others. Become aware of your own existence.

Between the ages of two and six, children build categorical identity , that is, they enrich the image they have achieved of themselves (existential identity) with characteristics that are their own and that distinguish them from others. These characteristics are usually personal, external and related to:


  • The activities he does ( I am a boy who plays ball ).
  • Her achievements or abilities ( I am a girl who can read ).
  • His physical appearance ( I am a tall boy ).
  • Global characteristics, not specific ( I do well in school ).
  • Characteristics based on external and arbitrary evidence , very dependent on the moment ( I am bad because I broke a vase ).
  • Characteristics coming from the image that significant adults transmit to him of themselves (I am handsome because my mother told me so).

From the age of six, the self-concept gradually becomes aware of characteristics more related to the internal world and the social world . It is based less on external physical characteristics and they begin to be aware that they have feelings, thoughts, desires of their own and that, in addition, they are different from others. The awareness of one’s own identity is differentiating little by little and is losing the global character that it had until now.

In adolescence the characteristics that are used to describe themselves are abstract . The adolescent already has the capacity to reflect on his own thoughts and feelings. The physical changes that occur at this time force to rebuild the self-concept. Personal identity is reached in the midst of the confusion typical of that moment of change.

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