Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Effects of Self-Esteem versus Self Control on Raising Children



This qualitative study investigates the effects of self-esteem and self-control on children, and compares commonly held perception of parents, which were gathered through semi-structured interviews, with published academic research gathered through a literature review of topics that are related to self-esteem, self-control, and their effect on children.

The effects of self-esteem versus self-control on raising children were chosen for several reasons:

 The first is that the self-esteem movement which started in the 1970’s (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003) has been greatly influential in western society, and in child rearing literature (Brummelman, Thomaes, Nelemans, & Castro, 2017).

The second reason is that inflated praise of children has been the immediate byproduct of the self-esteem movement, which recent research indicates that it is negatively correlated to self-esteem (Brummelman, Thomaes, Nelemans, & Castro, 2017).

The third reason is that raising well-adjusted children is a complicated, laborious, and time-intensive process, which should be preparing children to be able to take care of themselves (Santrock, 2016). Therefore the effects of having children practice self-control and being achievement oriented, has been indicated by recent research to have a long-term positive impact on self-esteem and achievement (Baumiester & Tierney, 2012).

The purpose of the semi-structured interview was to compare commonly held parenting perceptions and beliefs with current academic publications that discuss the implications of self-esteem and self-control on the outcome of well-adjusted children.

Thematic Analysis and Results

            After coding and analyzing the data derived from the semi-structured interviews that were conducted with a random sample of parents, several themes have emerged.

Common Beliefs

            Several common beliefs and perceptions were shared among the research participants. Some of those beliefs can be related with current psychological research, while others can be related with popular culture literature.

            All interview subjects agreed that childhood experiences have an impact on adult personality, which is consistent with current psychological research and the description of childhood as “formative years” (Woodruff, Bolen, & Thomas, 2004).

            There was consensus among the interview participants that well-adjusted children are respectful. Also, the concept of respect was linked to the concept of boundaries, as in “know their limits”, which was expressed in the third question and the ninth question as well. This linking of well-adjustment with respect is a theme that can also be observed in current psychological research (Ogilvie, 2006).

            Also participants emphasized the importance of setting rules for children to abide by, which were also linked to the concept boundaries, with one male participant answering “without rules, it means that you have no limits for anything”.

            The shared opinions of interview participants demonstrated an explicit perceived connection between the concepts of respect, rules, and boundaries, and the notion of a well-adjusted child.


Success was expressed as a byproduct of positive emotions and self-esteem, with one female participant stating “people who have a high self-esteem are people who keep trying in life I believe, they don’t need others to help them overcome challenges in life, and they are very much self-motivated, once they have a high self-esteem”. Current scientific literature does support that positive emotions and high self-esteem are correlated with success and positive life outcome (Liu & Liu, 2016) .


Self-esteem was perceived to have a causal relationship with self-control, where self-esteem causes self-control.

Also, self-control was not seen by interview participants as a personal attribute that has an explicit connection with success or having a well-adjusted child.


The fifth question of the interview which asked participants “When children participate in competitive activities, which do you believe is better: rewarding the winner or rewarding both the winner and loser, and why?” received similar answers from all participants where they though that both the winner and the loser should be rewarded. Moreover, when asked to elaborate, it was indicated that “you should put yourself in other people’s place”.


Another underlying theme in the interviews was the importance of motivating children to become achievement oriented, however the results were mixed when it came to the method of motivation. Some parents preferred the use of goals and goal setting; other preferred the use of praise. For example, when a male participant was asked how he would motivate is children, he answered “good words, well I’m against money you know”.

Discussion of Findings

            The result of the qualitative research that was conducted through a semi-structured interview has revealed the following findings:

Parents do appreciate the importance of childhood as having a formative effect on personality, which is also consistent with current psychological research (Woodruff, Bolen, & Thomas, 2004).

Parent’s perception of a well-adjusted child is focused mostly on obedience, which was indicated by their emphasis on the importance of having a respectful child that knows his or her limitations or boundaries. This finding implies that parents expect well-adjusted children to exert self-control; however, they were incapable of expressing the existence of a relationship between self-esteem and well-adjustment explicitly.

Parent’s perception of a well-adjusted child is also consistent with how a well-adjusted child is described in current psychological literature, however the description of well-adjusted children goes beyond obedience, where such children are described as capable of distinguishing between the self and others, and can regulate, express and emotions, and able to reason, feel, and behave morally (Santrock, 2016).

Another finding of this qualitative research was revolved around parent’s perception of the relationship of self-esteem and success. Parents believed that self-esteem has a causal relationship with success and achievement. Even though self-esteem and success are correlated (Liu & Liu, 2016), current research indicated that high self-esteem is a byproduct of success and achievement, not the other way around (Brummelman, Thomaes, Nelemans, & Castro, 2017).

Moreover, interview participants also held the perception that increasing children’s self-esteem can aid in the process of self-control, by reasoning that self-esteem can build confidence and nurture positive emotions, which enables the individual to exert self-control. When compared with current psychological research, high levels of self-esteem are correlated with high levels of self-control (Lee, Cheng, & Lin, 2014), however, other research indicates that high self-esteem can cause people to over-estimate their abilities and exert less self-control (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003). Therefore, self-esteem’s relationship with self-control is correlational and not causal, due to confounding variables.

Another issue that was indicated by the question that had to do with rewards and competitive activity, was parent’s willingness to hand out trophies and rewards for children that loose. This willingness was rooted in feelings of empathy towards the loosing child, which was expressed in statements like this “the looser shouldn’t walk away with anything” or “you should put yourself in other people’s place”. Even though empathy, which is the ability to feel other’s emotions, which is also a positive attribute when it comes to social relationships (Pedersen, Crethar, & Carlson, 2008), appears to have negative repercussions when teaching children about competition and preparing them for competitive environments in the future.

This lack of willingness to have unequal outcomes for children in competitive environments can possibly result in lower self-esteem in children that were not taught how to deal with loss and aversive situations (Robbins, 2014).

Achievement was valued among participants of the interview, but the methods implemented to motivate children to achieve varied. One approach expressed by a female participant was that of setting goals, which is consistent with current motivational theory (Campbell & Twenge, 2017). Another approach was the use of praise, or as one male participant stated “good words”. This participant that favored praise, also didn’t favor financial incentive. According to Roy Baumeister, some people believe that monetizing children’s activities make those activities feel like work, and consequently demotivate children to achieve (Baumiester & Tierney, 2012). Therefore, it might be worth investigating whether a correlation exists between being for praise and against material incentives when it comes to motivating children.

Research Evaluation

Research into the effects of self-esteem and self-control were conducted through a literature review of related topics, which was followed by a qualitative research, operationalized through semi-structured interviews, with the findings compared with existing data.

Such methods are ideal when conducting exploratory, due to the volume of research and publications which can be covered relevant to a specific topic and due to the unexpected outcomes and leads which can be generated for future investigation. However, the major weakness of conducting qualitative research is the lack of ability of producing generalizable findings (Denzin & Lincoln, 2018).

Moreover, the incidence of biases which can result due to the direct interaction with research participants is higher than that of more structured research approaches, especially those which apply the experimental method (Babbie, 2010).



This qualitative research has reinforced the finding of the literature review, where the popular belief that self-esteem is a better indicator of achievement is prevalent. When compared with the scientific and psychological literature that self-esteem is a byproduct of achievement (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003) and achievement requires self-efficacy (Campbell & Twenge, 2017) and self-control (Baumiester & Tierney, 2012), indicated that a change in the perception and application of child raising strategies should be implemented.

However, since this research is of qualitative data, further qualitative data is required to validate the findings and explore the research paths that have been generated. For example, exploring the relationship between the uses of praise versus the use of financial incentives by parents, and how they are related can be explored through the use of quantitative research methods.

This qualitative research was hand coded; it could have been also coded through qualitative data analysis (QDA) software. The major advantages of QDA software over hand coding is that it facilitates organization, facilitates the use of time stamps, adds the possibility of linking videos and files to the research, and facilitates the search to the indexed data. The major thing that QDA software can’t do is research. Therefore, since it allows easier access to organized indexed data, it might aid the researcher to produce analysis that are broader in scope and well-reasoned analysis (John & Johnson, 2000).



Appendix – Coded Data

Interviewer: In your opinion, do childhood experiences have any impact on adult personality?

F: Definitely, they shape a lot their personality when they become adults and it impacts I think a lot their behavior in general.

M: Definitely

Interviewer: So what is your idea of a well-adjusted child? As in a well raised child?

F: Good question, I believe in the idea that a child should be well behaved, respectful towards people, doesn’t, knows his limits of what to demand and when to demand it, has good self-control as well.

M: First of all, respect.


Interviewer: Ok, would you expect children to follow rules?

M: Yes

F: Yes

Interviewer: How important are rules in your opinion?

M: Its very important, without rules, it means that you have no limits for anything.




Shared Opinions

Interviewer: So what is your idea of a well-adjusted child? As in a well raised child?

F: Good question, I believe in the idea that a child should be well behaved, respectful towards people, doesn’t, knows his limits of what to demand and when to demand it, has good self-control as well.

M: First of all, respect.

Interviewer: Ok, would you expect children to follow rules?

M: Yes

F: Yes

Interviewer: How important are rules in your opinion?

M: Its very important, without rules, it means that you have no limits for anything.


Well-adjustment attributes

Interviewer: So which in your opinion contributes to success more, self-esteem or self-control?

F: I believe its self-esteem

Interviewer:  Self-esteem more than self-control?

F: Yes

Interviewer: Alright, would you like to elaborate further?

F: Because if someone has a good…, I’ve seen this in people when they grow up…, I’ve tried to analyze it myself, not linking it to childhood, people who have a high self-esteem are people who keep trying in life I believe, they don’t need others to help them overcome challenges in life, and they are very much self-motivated, once they have a high self-esteem.

M: I think self-esteem



Related to Success

Interviewer: Self-control is being able to control your impulses; self-esteem is the feeling that you have towards yourself. Are they linked in any way?

F: Tough question. I never thought about it but I think, I think they could be related.

Interviewer: would you like to elaborate further or we move onto the next question?

F: No, I think, how can they be related? I you’re strong enough. I mean if your self-enthusiasm is strong enough to know when to react or to control your reaction. I think I mean, what I want to say is, if you’re happy with yourself, I believe you’re going to be able to control yourself better, but if you’re not happy with yourself, and if you feel like you’re not as enthusiastic about something, then you might have an issue with controlling how you feel towards it. So its more of confidence and enthusiasm are linked together.

Interviewer: Where does self-esteem and self-control, or do they actually play a role when you want to motivate your children to become achievement oriented.

F: Very much, I think I would focus a lot on self-esteem and building their self-esteem because that builds confidence, and with confidence I believe that you would learn how to do self-control.



Related to self-control

Interviewer: Alright, so my next question to you is, when children participate in competitive activities, which do you believe is better, rewarding the winner, or rewarding both the winner and the loser?

F: I think because it’s a competition, one person, someone has to win, I don’t think you should reward both the winner and the loser, but I believe that the loser should not walk away without anything. I mean, one can be given a higher prize that the other just for them to feel the sportsmanship.

M: Because if you don’t lose you don’t win. You should put yourself in other people’s place.




Interviewer: As a parent, would you motivate your children to become achievement oriented?

F: Yes

Interviewer: Would you like to elaborate further?

F: Because, I believe that goals are important in life and if they don’t set goals for themselves and try to achieve them, they will not succeed in life in general, and in anything whether it’s an emotional aspect or a financial aspect or any other aspect in life. It’s very important.

M: I have to, yeah, yeah. I encourage them also

Interviewer: How would you encourage your children?

M: Good words, well I’m against money you know





PSY 311de: H00068641



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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Aggression and Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is defines as a coercive and controlling behavior within a family that can be life-threatening (CFJ, 2018). Aggression on the other hand is defined as behavior that is intended to hurt others, be it physical or verbal (Myers & Twenge, 2016). Based on the given definitions, it is easy to conclude that domestic abuse is simply aggressive behavior in a family context, which is a scary and irritating notion, given that the family should be a safe haven from the world’s burdens.

To properly dissect the problem of domestic abuse, the biopsychosocial model (Engle, 1981) will be used, due to the complexity of the topic and the diversity of triggers of aggression that are biological, psychological, and social (Myers & Twenge, 2016).

The causes of domestic violence are varied and usually overlap (CFJ, 2018). One cause, which can be explained through the biopsychosocial model, is the need of a partner, which is usually a male to assert dominance through aggression over the other partner (Lothstein, 2015). This assertion of dominance is linked biologically to high levels of testosterone (Myers & Twenge, 2016); psychologically to the frustration aggression theory, where hostility is redirected from an intimidating source that has caused the abuser frustration and pain to the spouse (Myers & Twenge, 2016); socially to the media influences of traditional gender roles, where males should be assertive and dominant while females submissive (Twenge & Campbell, 2017).

Another cause is when the abuser has experienced domestic abuse as a child, or has witnessed a parent or relative being domestically abused (Kanopy , 2016). This cause can also be psychologically linked to the frustration aggression theory, since the original source of frustration is in the past and usually unknown (Myers & Twenge, 2016). It can also be socially linked to social learning theory, which states that social behavior is learned by children through observation and mirroring (Myers & Twenge, 2016). Biologically, research in the field of genetics indicates that aggression can be encoded in genes and inherited from aggressive ancestors (Lubke, McArtor, Boomsma, & Bartels, 2018).

There are a variety of other causes of aggression and abuse, however, since most triggers of abuse are emotional (Lothstein, 2015), they can be mitigated or avoided in several ways. Social learning theory can also aid in reducing aggression by neutralizing its cause, by avoiding aversive situations, teach people how to evoke reactions that are not aggressive, and rewarding expedient behavior (Myers & Twenge, 2016).

Since aggression and abuse are linked with frustration (Lothstein, 2015), teaching abusers how to appropriately express themselves and their emotions aids in abandoning aggressive behavior (Myers & Twenge, 2016). Another important concept that can reduce aggression is self-control, by teaching abusers how to control their impulses and redirect their emotions in a more positive direction (Keatley, Allom, & Mullan, 2017).

Some psychoanalysts argue that aggressive people should vent their anger in order to reduce it, a process they call catharsis. However, research has indicated that is only increases aggressive behavior (Myers & Twenge, 2016).

In some cases, people fault the victim of domestic abuse for not leaving the relationship (Chaney & Saltzstein, 1998). Even though the victim shouldn’t be blamed, such beliefs can be explained through social identity theory, where the investigators/police, usually male dominant, tend not to identify with the victim, which is usually a female, since she belongs to the out-group (Chaney & Saltzstein, 1998) (Myers & Twenge, 2016).

Domestic abuse is a serious issue that ruins many lives, if you know someone that is suffering from such a situation; intervene and tell their friends, relatives or even the police, and do not fall for the bystander effect (Nida, 2013).


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