Studies

Erickson’s theory

The Effect of Parental Involvement on Child Self-esteem There is little debate about the impact of parental involvement on the early development of children’s attitudes and behavior patterns. However, due to the complexity of the topic and the follow-up necessary to gather data, little research has been done in this area. Most perceptions on parental involvement come from anecdotal information or post-traumatic observations. The Culp, Schadle, Robinson, and Culp (2000) study measured the effects of parental involvement in the child’s early life. Though they worked towards three hypotheses, two dealt with parental perceptions that the parents had of the other spouse. However, the third hypothesis was relevant to the nature of the impact that parental involvement has on young children.
The study was conducted with 25 families of children that were in kindergarten and first grade. Both parents worked outside the home and according to Culp et al. (2000) contributed to the fathers, "[…] taking a greater responsibility in their parent-child interactions during weekdays than single-earner family fathers" (p. 28). Based on this increased involvement by the fathers, Culp et al. (2000) confirmed their hypothesis when they concluded that greater father interaction was "associated with children’s perceptions of self-competence and social acceptance" (p. 36).
The Culp et al. (2000) study found that while increased father involvement elevated the child’s sense of parental acceptance, it did not improve their cognitive or physical abilities (p. 36). Though Culp et al. (2000) found that more involvement by the male parent resulted in a perception by the father of better physical behavior, the study pointed out that this might only be the father’s perception of the child’s behavior (pp. 35-36). The increased time spent with the child, and the added responsibility of caring for them, may alter the father’s perception but not the behavior of the child.
Erikson’s model would tell us that increased father involvement during stage 2 and 3 would result in a child that has more purpose and courage (Boeree, 2006). This is the early stage of independence and an increased father presence that results in these qualities will translate into more independent actions on the part of the child. It will also diminish the negative effects as, according to Erikson’s theory, the lack of parental acceptance would foster feelings of guilt and lack of initiative (Boeree, 2006). This has been corroborated by a study by Biller (1993) that contends a lack of parental involvement can result in insecurity and the development of a poor self-image (as cited in Culp et al., 2000, p.29). These negative traits can also lead to a sense of inadequacy and despair (Classic theories). According to relevant research we can infer that greater involvement by the father will result in a child with a healthier mental attitude.
The Culp et al. (2000) study was problematic in that the participants were almost exclusively upper middle class Caucasian (pp. 30-31). These factors may have contributed to a better overall condition of family life and may not translate across other social and cultural boundaries. The study was also limited by the narrow age group of the children and the lack of follow up studies. More research involving cohort groups is needed to isolate the impact of parental involvement at very early ages, particularly by the male parent during Erikson’s first stage.
Overall, the study does not present enough clear evidence to support or disprove the Erikson theory of multiple stage growth. It does, however, indicate the importance of parental involvement by both parents during the first six years. The Culp et al. (2000) study does confirm that high father involvement can contribute to improved self-confidence and self-esteem (p. 36). These are critical factors that will facilitate a successful transition to the Erikson stage 4 as the child gains more independence and begins socializing with peers outside the home.
References
Boeree, C. G. (2006). Personality theories. Retrieved October 30, 2006, from http://www.ship.edu/cgboeree/erikson.html
Classic theories of child development (2006). Retrieved October 30, 2006, from http://childstudy.net/late-erk.php
Culp, R. E., Schadle, S., Robinson, L., &amp. Culp, A. M. (2000). Relationships among paternal involvement and young children’s perceived self-competence and behavioral problems [Electronic version]. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 9(1), 27-38.

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