The effects of the teacher-child relationship and caregiver attachment security on children’s self-concept in middle childhood

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Sarah Delo
Submitted: June 2016


A positive self-concept is associated with a number of outcomes including school adjustment, academic attainment and mental health. Literature suggests individual differences in self-concept derive from children’s relationships with significant others such as parents and teachers. A systematic review of the literature exploring the relationship between teacher-child relationships and children’s self-concept found some associations, however, this was not always consistently found. Furthermore, a number of methodological limitations in the studies were noted. Implications for future research were reported and included using multi-faceted measures of self-concept and teacher-child relationships, as well as controlling for the effect of other social relationships (e.g. parents).

To address some of these limitations, this empirical paper examines whether teacher relationships (as characterised by closeness and conflict) are associated with children’s global, academic, behavioural and social self-concept, and whether teacher relationships may buffer children who are less securely attached to their caregivers against negative outcomes, such as low self-concept. 163 children (aged 7-11 years) and their class teachers participated. Questionnaires measured child reports of the teacher relationship, attachment security to their caregiver and self-concept as well as teacher reports of teacher relationship quality. Results found that although there was no evidence for a moderating effect of teacher relationships, attachment security was related to children’s global, academic, behavioural and social self-concept and positive teacher relationships further contributed to children’s behavioural and academic self-concept. Teacher relationships were found not to contribute to children’s global or social self-concept. Implications for future research and educational psychology practice are discussed.

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