Behavioral and relational correlates of low self-perceived competence in young children

Larry J. Nelson, Brigham Young University
Craig H. Hart, Brigham Young University
Cortney A. Evans, University of Pennsylvania
Robert J. Coplan, Carleton University
Susanne Olsen Roper, Brigham Young University
Clyde C. Robinson, Brigham Young University


It is developmentally normative for preschoolers (aged four to five years) to have self-perceptions that are typically positive and even over-inflated. However, because not all children have positive self-perceptions in early childhood it is important to understand factors that influence the development of self-perceptions, especially low self-perceptions, in early childhood. Therefore, this study examined the associations between self-perceptions and teacher ratings of social behaviors, subtypes of withdrawal, and peer ratings of acceptance/rejection in preschoolers. Participants included 199 children (107 males, 92 females) attending two early childhood programs in a midsized community in the western United States. The major findings were that children in early childhood who have lower self-perceptions of their abilities than their peers tended to engage in more reticence, solitary-passive withdrawal, and solitary-active behavior. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.