The early intimacy between the mother and the child makes the mother the most significant person in the life of the child. Thus maternal acceptance plays an inestimable role in the process of child’s personality development. This study therefore investigated the influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem as expressed by secondary school students in Kwara State. Simple sampling technique was adopted for the selection of 450 respondents that participated in the study. The instrument used for the study was a questionnaire tagged “Influence of Maternal Acceptance on Self-Esteem Questionnaire” (IMASAEQ). The instrument consisted of 25 items which elicited information from the randomly selected respondents. Four null hypotheses were formulated and tested and the data collected were analysed using frequency counts, simple percentages, student t-test and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The null hypotheses generated were tested at 0.05 alpha level of significance. The results of the tested hypotheses revealed that they were all accepted; thus age, religion, gender and class level did not influence the expression of the respondents. The results revealed that maternal acceptance influences students’ self-esteem because it makes them feel happy and confident. 

Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended that school counsellors should organize talks with mothers on the importance of maternal acceptance to school-going adolescents. It was also recommended that various agencies should organize seminars on the need for adequate maternal acceptance. Thus, Government agencies and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) should put in place community counselling programme to help sensitise parents on their roles to the children.



Title Page i

Certification ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgements iv

Abstract vi

Table of Contents viii

List of Tables xii



Background to the Study 1

Statement of the Problem 11

Research Questions 15

Research Hypotheses 16

Purpose of the Study 17

Significance of the Study 17

Operational Definition of Terms 20

Scope of the Study 21



Introduction 22

Concept of Self-Esteem 23

Impacts of Mother in the development of self-esteem of 

the child 32

Effects of parents’ absence on the development of 

self-Esteem 40

Parents’ Leadership Styles 43

Parental Attitudes towards the child 48

Summary of the Review of Related Literature 59



Introduction 60

Research Design 60

Sample and Sampling Procedure  61

Instrumentation 63

Psychometric Property of the Instrument 65

Pilot Testing 67

Procedure for Data Administration and Collection 67

Scoring Procedure 68

Method of Data Analysis 69



Introduction 70

Demographic Data 70

Hypotheses Testing 77

Summary of Findings 81



Introduction    82

Discussion 83

Conclusion 92

Counselling Implications 93

Recommendations 95

Suggestions for Further Studies        97

References        99

Appendix        104



Table 1: Distribution of Respondents by Religion 71

Table 2: Distribution of Respondents on the Basis 

of Age 72

Table 3: Distribution of Respondents by Gender 73

Table 4: Distribution of Respondents by Class Level 73

Table 5: Items Ranking of Responses on Influence 

of Maternal Acceptance on Self-Esteem 74

Table 6: Means, Standard Deviation and t-value of 77

responses on influence of maternal 

acceptance on self-esteem

Table 7: Means, Standard Deviation and t-value

of responses on influence of maternal 

expression on self esteem on the basis of 

religion 78

Table 8: Means, Standard Deviation and t-value

of responses on influence of maternal 

expression on self esteem on the basis of 

gender 79

Table 9: Means, Standard Deviation and t-value

of responses on influence of maternal 

acceptance on self-esteem on the basis of 

class level 80 



Background to the Study 

Young children are entirely dependent on adults for their survival and care. According to Lee (1990), in most cases, each child is looked after by his/her parents, but they in turn are sustained and supported by the society of which they are members. Gradually other adults (such as relatives, neighbours, nurses, doctors, playgroup leaders, teachers and every adult that the young child encounters) take over some of the responsibilities of caring for the child. However, caring for the child influences him by reinforcing or undermining his grasp of the real world and his confidence in people.

The home is the primary institution where children are brought up, it is the environment that plays a significant role in the upbringing of the child. According to Brewer (2002), the world children live in vary with the particular family environment into which they are born. The types of homes children are born into go a long way in determining their personality development.

Parents are the primary agents of socialization of their children directly or indirectly. Children adopt values and behaviours similar to those of their parents (Salawu, 2003). Emphasis has been placed on parental attitudes having a strong impact not only on the family relationship but also the attitudes and behaviours of children (Brain, 2002).

Mothers are believed to be the custodian of their children, and what take places between them have some characteristics that give either positive or negative impact on the children. Mothers vary widely in their care taking, care giving and catering for the basic needs of the children (Salawu, 2003). Mothers play significant roles in the upbringing and development of their children. According to Salawu (2003), Mothers seem to have particular important roles especially in inducing enduring forms of self actualization into their children. This suggests that mother-child relationship is an index in determining the child’s behaviour pattern. 

It has been pointed out that, one singular factor in the home that gives a better relationship to the child is the efficiency of the mother Ken (2006) stated that mothers vary widely in care taking and maternal care of which such settings are useful as they provide variations in maternal care. Maternal warmth, love and care directed toward the child will create positive relationship, (Adejumo, 2004). Furthermore, it has been asserted that, a mothers’ warmth, relaxation, comfort, satisfaction, recognition, acceptance, security and love go a long way toward satisfying the need for affection, belonging and acceptance for the children. It also creates emotional security for the children thus helping in the fostering of a balanced (Salawu, 2003).

Lee (1990) observed that ‘a mother’, has become a useful verb that describes a whole collection of attitudes and actions based on the behaviour of a caring mother to her child. The mothers as the first agent of socialization for the child, helps to educate him about the new world. For example, the little baby may not see or understand the world clearly; he only knows that he feels contented, warm and safe or uncomfortable, angry or frightened. His mother is that part of his surroundings which comforts him, feeds him and makes him feel safe and warm. Loud noises, being dropped, or held loosely for his food so that he feels acute discomfort, makes him angry and anxious.

Brian (2002) explained that the mother knows that he feels these things and she tries to avoid situations, which arouse these feelings. The kind of person he will grow up to be depends to a very large extent on how he finds the world in his early baby days. It was (Williams, 1995) who discovered that if the child feels safe and contented more often, than he feels abandoned and desperate, he will grow up feeling that the world can be trusted and depended on and this will form a secure base for him from which he ventures out sound experiment in all kinds of ways. This will strengthen his initiative and confidence and he will be more ready to meet new people and new situations all through his life. 

Kim (2007) noted that children think and hold their mothers as the individuals who do things for them, come to their aid, tolerate and take care of them by taking care of their individual needs with a sense of personal trustworthiness, love and care. They also seen to be understanding considerate, warm and are there when needed. 

There are children whose parents spend time with them. They talk to them, answer questions and help them to find answers to questions. There are some other parents who give little or no attention to their children; they are cruelsome, they neglect them and they do not consider the personality development of their children. Adejumo (2004) was of the view that children that come from homes that are stimulating may likely have positive self-esteem. This category of parents could be considered as accepting. 

Mothers who are accepting, that is, those who show love and warmth, to their children, are consistent in enforcing limits and willing to listen to their children’s views and beliefs. The category of children from such homes usually develops positive self-esteem, which may eventually help them in future. Parents in this group are of the view that, it is their responsibility to establish a kind of parent-child relationship that fosters the child’s confidence and self esteem which sets the stage for his future social interactions (Salawu, 2003). 

Davies (2003) stated that the manner in which the child is treated will help him create and form pictures of himself that will influence his behaviour in certain situations. Mothers’ attitudes and behaviours are important methods, thus, mothers who are accepting, cooperative and sensitive, have children who are self accepting and have positive self esteem than those who are rejecting and insensitive. It has also been observed that in the home, the issue of acceptance and rejection are considered important (Kim, 2007). 

Children, who are accepted, behave in socially acceptable ways while those who are rejected, project a number of unacceptable behaviours. Parental attitude and the way the children see themselves can also affect their (children) self-esteem Burg (2000). They also stressed that, mutual understanding, acceptance and trust, foster a better relationship between parents and a child and this yields satisfying results.

Researchers such as Imoukhome, (1987) and Jimoh-Cook, (1991) have shown that, mothers who are warm, loving and accepting, show acceptance of the child. The lack of these show rejection of the child. Therefore, feelings, attitudes and behaviour of the mother to the child can affect their behavioural development and affecting their self-esteem. 

Boys and Girls in the Secondary School are in their adolescence period, which is considered to be time of stress and storm, (Adegoke, 2003). He said further that it is the period where their ideal selves and actual selves often change as their experiences widen. As they go through this period, others who try to cope with difficulties; are those who have firm, secure and understanding homes which recognize and undertake for their developmental needs. Children who succeed in various tasks and can cope with situations around them are likely to grow in self-esteem. Those that experience failures over different tasks and often fail, develop low self-esteem about themselves (Williams, 2005).  

Conger (2003) reported that adolescents continue to need parental love and acceptance when they show tendencies of moving towards independence. He stressed further that in homes where children are given appropriate love and care, the children are likely to become more active, outgoing, society assertive, friendly and are likely to develop a positive self-image. 

Socio-economic problems, parental absence, conflict within the family set-up, dissatisfaction, and neglect stand out as examples and possible issues that can affect self esteem of the young adolescent. Children who come from homes where basic psychological needs are not met feel bad and reserved. This brings about changes in the routine of the home discipline and the adjustment of the affected child may be difficult. 

Lower social class background may reflect in the development of the adolescent’s self-esteem. A poor home atmosphere and poor existing relationship are likely to affect the self esteem of the child reduction developing low self esteem and for this they are vulnerable to criticisms and rejection among other children. Parental occupation also has a cultural significance in that it affects the child’s social prestige. Children stratify people on the basis of the jobs and accept adult attitudes and values concerning different jobs (Imohen, 2005). 

Burg (2000) explained that instances where discipline is likely to be arbitrary and overly severe often involving physical punishment is seen as an expression of parental rejection. In an attempt to change the child’s behavior where he erred, the child is often rejected. This could be due, to the fact that mothers are traditionally over burdened with household chores and other responsibilities that can worsen the effectiveness of the mother’s efficiency in catering for the child’s needs. Often times the child is left in the hands of the other adults, surrogate mothers or siblings in the home. Therefore lack of warmth and failure to use reasonable consistent control appropriate to the child’s stage of development are likely to create an atmosphere that is aggressive and poorly controlled behaviour (Bello, 2002).

When mothers reject their children, they are by who reported to be suspicious, timid and insecure, anxious, introverted and tense and therefore developing poor or low self esteem. Family interaction and structure have been based on the assumption that individual development is a function of multiplicity of interaction and influences occurring in the context of the whole family.

Statement of the Problem 

It is obvious that in the traditional African society (if not all over the World) the role of the mother in the overall upbringing of the child is unique. Apart from the fact that the child comes to the world through the mother, it is important to note that the mother maintains an uncontended position of being the first ‘friend’ to the child. This early intimacy between the mother and the child makes her the most relevant person in the life of the child. Thus, maternal acceptance by this ‘friend’ will play an inestimable role in the process of a child’s personality development. 

While analyzing Ann Roe’s Theory of Vocational Development, explained that maternal acceptance solely determines the occupational preference of the child. This is because the type of relationship which the child experiences, especially at childhood, will nevertheless produce his personality, and thus, lead to occupational interest. Ajiboye (2006) stated that other renowned psychologists, such as (Sigmund Freud, Eric Erickson and Eric Berne) emphasized the role of the mother-child relationship in the overall development of a well balanced personality. Thus, future of the child rests much on his early life experiences.

Glasser in (1965) stressed the fact that a person has two primary needs above and beyond survival.

(i) The need to give and receive love

(ii) The need to feel worthwhile, (useful) to oneself and the society. He stressed further that when this factor are absent in the life of adolescents, they may consequently react by getting involved in various delinquent behaviours. 

Adejumoh (2003) noted that the emotional climate at home, and the type of parental relationship with the child are of three types: The emotional concentration in which the parents encourage dependency in the closely, the avoidance type of climate which are cold, hostile and negligent which ridicules and derogates the child, and lastly is the acceptance type of family which gives the child love, warmth and affection. All these three types of family environment influence the child in various ways, such as joining a gang, a cult or some other groups where they may learn anti-social behaviours. 

Some previous studies have considered related aspects of the child’s development. Aiyedun (2007) worked on effect of divorce on secondary school students. The study found out that students from divorced homes portray serious adjustment problems because of their separation from their mothers. Otusanya (2006) reported that children brought up by single parents (especially father) find it difficult to cope with both academic and social challenges. Maternal acceptance may help the child to develop maximum self confidence, positive self-concept and a balanced personality. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge, no previous study has considered the influence of maternal acceptance aspect of child’s development on self-esteem as expressed by the secondary school students, especially in Kwara State. Therefore, the researcher considered it imperative to conduct this study on maternal acceptance on self-esteem as expressed by secondary school students in Kwara State. This will help to provide explanations and profer solution to the problems inherent in the practice. 

Research Questions

In the process of carrying out this study, answers were provided to the following questions: 

(1) What is the influence of maternal-acceptance on the self-esteem of secondary school students? 

(2) Is there any difference in the influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem as expressed by secondary school students in Kwara State on the basis of age? 

(3) Will there be any difference in the influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem as expressed by secondary school students in Kwara State on the basis of religion? 

(4) Will there be any difference or the influence of maternal acceptance on self esteem as expressed by respondents on the basis of gender? 

(5) Is there any difference in influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem as expressed by secondary school students in Kwara State on the basis of class level? 

Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were formulated for the study:

(1) There is no significant difference in the expression of secondary school student in Kwara State on influence of maternal acceptance on self esteem on the basis of age.

(2) There is no significant difference in the expression of secondary school stuydents in Kwara State on influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem on the basis of religion.

(3) There is no significant difference in the expression of secondary school students in Kwara State in influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem on the basis of gender. 

(4) There is no significant difference in the expression of secondary school students in Kwara State on influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem on the basis of class level.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to determine the influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem as expressed by secondary school students in Kwara State. The study sort to find out whether or not age, religion and gender have significant influence on respondents views as regards the influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem. 

Significance of the Study

The intention of this researcher is to make the findings of this study available to teachers, parents, administrators, counsellors and others who are involved in working with adolescents. It is also to help adolescents improve their self-esteem which in turn could have a positive influence on their attitudes and behaviours.

Parental behaviour has been noticed to have a great and strong impact on the attitude and behaviour of children. Parental behaviour makes children become who they really want to become in life. Parental acceptance could have favourable effect on the self esteem of the children with this fact, it may help parents to develop behaviour that will enhance self-esteem of secondary school students in Kwara State. It could also help parents develop the right attitude to their children with a view to reducing instances of resentment, frustration, feeling of helplessness and hostility towards others. It is the intention of this researcher to create awareness in parents, especially mothers, about their roles in developing in their children better behaviour patterns and approach to life. 

Parents will benefit from this study in the sense that, it will provide better understanding on the need to give required attention and care to children. Most times some parents justify the disregard on children on the ground that the nature of work they (parents) engage does not give enough time to care for the children. This group of parents forgets that stages of child development are not reversible, hence any unnecessary rejection of the child may cause permanent personality defect in the child. Thus, this study would help the parents to understand the relationship that is supposed to exist between the mother and the child. 

The counsellors will benefit from the study since one of their major responsibilities is the management of emotional instability that may manifest in individuals. Maternal acceptance will actually presuppose the emotional state of individuals. Understanding the influence of maternal acceptance as they influence self-esteem will help the counsellor to manage problems of self concept and self image. Immensely, this study will provide a dependable instrument to measure the degree at which mother-child relationship may influence personality development.  

If generally considered, not much has been done in this part of the country on the influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem. This study is therefore expected to establish a balance between Western findings and what is obtainable in Nigeria. Thus the larger society stands the chance to benefit from the study.

Operational Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this study, the following terms are defined according to what they implied in the study.

Maternal Rejection: - A phenomenon where mothers (parents) show a general indifference to their children’s safety and lack of concern for their personality development. 

Maternal Acceptance: - A situation where mothers show care, love and concern, by providing the necessary support that ensure adequate personality development of the child. 

Parental Attitude: - This refers to parent’s ways of thinking and response to the child’s physical, social and emotional needs.

Self Esteem: - This refers to having a good opinion of one’s own character and abilities. 

Scope of the Study

The study was designed to investigate the influence of maternal acceptance on self-esteem. The research covered all the secondary school students in Kwara State. This study was limited to nine Local Government Areas: Ilorin West, Asa, Ekiti, Ifelodun, Irepodun, Offa, Kaiama, Moro and Patigi, Eighteen secondary schools were randomly selected and four hundred and fifty (450) students were also be randomly selected for the study.



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