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Child Development Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 393914, 9 pages
Research Article

Parent-Initiated Motivational Climate, Self-Esteem, and Autonomous Motivation in Young Athletes: Testing Propositions from Achievement Goal and Self-Determination Theories

1Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1525, USA
2School of Health, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK

Received 30 March 2012; Revised 9 July 2012; Accepted 24 July 2012

Academic Editor: Cheryl Dissanayake

Copyright © 2012 Daniel J. O'Rourke et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Interactions with parents are known to have a significant impact on children's self-esteem. In this study, designed to test propositions derived from Achievement Goal Theory and Self-Determination Theory, we assessed the influence of perceived parent-initiated mastery and ego motivational climates on self-esteem and self-esteem change in competitive youth swimmers over the course of a 32-week sport season. At each of three measurement points (early, mid, and late season), mastery climate scores on the Parent-Initiated Motivational Climate Questionnaire-2 scale were positively related to global self-esteem scores and to a measure of relative motivational autonomy that reflects the intrinsic-extrinsic motivation continuum, whereas ego climate scores were negatively related to self-esteem and autonomy. Longitudinal analyses revealed that early-season mastery climate predicted positive changes in self-esteem over the course of the season, whereas ego climate predicted decreased self-esteem. Consistent with predictions derived from Self-Determination Theory, a meditational analysis revealed that these self-esteem changes were mediated by changes in autonomous motivation.