Personality development in childhood

The concept of personality development can describe how the life process through which each individual passes where certain bases and directives of certain characters and behaviors are established from which the traits, values ​​and forms of operation organized and stable at the time of that person conform.

These mechanisms become a reference for the person in his interactions with the context (Environmental or physical and interpersonal or social) in which it usually develops.

Personality factors

Thus, development is understood as the result of a bidirectional confluence between more biological or internal factors (genetic inheritance) and other contextual or external factors (environment). The first one understands the temperament, Which is defined by an intrinsic and innate emotional and motivational disposition that mobilizes the subject for primary interests.

On the other hand, environmental factors can be classified into common influences (norms, values, social and cultural beliefs of external origin) and personal (particular experiences and life circumstances of each subject, such as illness).

It can therefore be said that as the subject matures biologically and incorporates new experiences and external experiences, the process of developing his own personality takes place. How does this personality development occur during childhood?

Emotional development in early childhood

The most important phenomenon that characterizes the emotional development of the child in the first years of life is the formation of the inclination or the affective / affective bond established between the little one and one or more reference figures (usually subjects belonging to family system, although this may not be the case in all cases). The condition consists of three elements: affective behaviors, mental representations and feelings generated by the previous two.

The main function of developing the emotional bond is both facilitate adaptive development in the emotional realm that allows the subject to be able to establish future functional and appropriate emotional interpersonal relationships, such as ensure a balanced overall development of the personality. Without this support, children are not able to make the emotional connections necessary to develop all of their skills.

At the same time, the condition generates a context in which children can learn and explore their surroundings feeling safe, which is essential for discovering their own abilities. This type of discovery will shape their attitudes and part of their personality, depending on whether they feel more or less competent in the areas in which they live as usual.

The process of forming the tilt

In the process of forming the condition, they can distinguish different phases depending on the distinction that the baby learns to make about the people in his social environment. Thus, in the first two months, his inability to distinguish between affectionate characters and others makes him feel a good predisposition for social interaction in general, regardless of the person in question.

From 6 months, this differentiation becomes more pronounced, so that the boy or the girl shows his preference for the figures closest to emotional closeness. At 8 months, the phase “anxiety of the eighth month” takes place in which the baby shows his rejection of strangers or people who are not in his closest circle of affection.

With the consolidation of the symbolic function, at 2 years, we are able to internalize the permanence of the object, Although not physically visible, which helps to consolidate the emotional bond. Subsequently, the child begins a stage characterized by a constant search for approval and affection from adults, Experiencing some emotional dependence and again showing a good predisposition to general social interaction.

Finally, between 4 and 6 years old, the child’s interest is focused on his relationship with his peers, which strengthens the beginning of the stage of socialization in other environments other than the family, such as the school.

The conquest of autonomy

The acquisition of the capacity for autonomy takes place in the early years of a child’s childhood, once the process of self-conception has started to consolidate (as a differentiation from other subjects) and adult emotional dependence begins to be overcome orient themselves to experiencing the world independently.

By discovering that they can interact by following the first notions of internalized norms, values ​​and beliefs (not always coinciding with that of adults understood as a learning model) from the experiences of early childhood, their motivation is oriented towards the governance of their behavior according to their own decisions. Thus, a phase of constant ambivalence is generated between the need to depend on the adult and the search for autonomy in his regard, which this can lead to the manifestation of blame or other behavioral changes as a sign of intention to preserve their independence.

This is a delicate process, because in addition to the fact that the little one can be very difficult to deal with, it forces the adult to set strict and clear educational guidelines on the appropriate developmental path to follow. This is one of the key ideas to emphasize when it comes to developing a child’s autonomy.

It is important to remember that there must be this balance between the growing freedom of action that the child adopts and the permanent role of guide and the advice to be exercised by the loving and educational characters of the first.

Another fundamental point is the relevance of the environmental context in which the individual develops, which considerably shapes and influences the process of acquiring the indicated autonomy. Therefore, each individual has their own peculiarities and a universal model cannot be established which explains this process in general. Like most aspects relating to the development of the person is characterized by its individuality and its qualitative differentiation from other subjects.

Children’s self-awareness, self-esteem and self-esteem

The start of the acquisition of self-awareness or self-concept is intrinsically linked to the achievement of the cognitive development phase of object permanence. The child internalizes that he remains the same being at different times or situations thanks to the proliferation and linguistic development that occurs from the second year of life. From there, the subject begins to see how to differentiate himself from other individuals. and recognize their own ideas, values, beliefs, feelings, interests, motivations. In other words, he begins to relate the environment in which he is found to himself.

It is a process that begins at this chronological point; therefore, this differentiation and establishment of individual identity is not complete at all times and although aspects inherent in their person (personality) are assimilated, it is possible that some cognitive and / or emotional processes occur unconsciously .

Thus, it is a process by which what others express and what one interprets from their actions forms a self-image. In turn, this image is associated with a moral evaluation of it, which makes it more or less positive. according to the child’s expectations and preferences.

The role of self-esteem in boys and girls

With the emergence of the concept of self, its evaluative component, the esteem of self, emerges simultaneously. Self-esteem is a phenomenon very closely related to the achievement of balanced and adaptive psychological development. Therefore, if the individual’s assessment of his own worth as a human being in interaction with the more cognitive aspects and qualities related to self-concept is positive, this fact will act as a protective factor in the future by preventing intense emotional disturbances, Psychological difficulties and, to a greater extent, problems of social interaction with other people.

It is very important that there is not a very high gap between the real self (what the individual represents) and the ideal self (what the individual would like to represent) to consolidate adaptive psychic and emotional development and appropriate or balanced.).

Another key aspect is the role that external assessments play in the level of self-esteem that each subject exhibits. like that, the image that others have of themselves and the assessment they make of their skills or behaviors they remarkably influence the child’s perception of himself.

From the third or fourth year, the search for approval by the adult would be linked to this problem, because this motivation it is done with the ultimate goal of establishing an acceptable level of self-esteem. As mentioned above, at this stage, conflicts can arise, at the level of opposing behaviors of the child to educational characters and other adults, resulting from the contrast between the protection of the adult and the search for autonomy of the little one. Therefore, a key aspect to keep in mind is the educational style that parents exercise about the child.

An educational style characterized by a balanced combination of control / discipline / authority and affection / understanding appears to promote a high level of self-esteem and, in addition, a lower likelihood of reprimands and negative behavior. This way, it is essential that educators understand the importance of gradually increasing children’s autonomy and that as he grows as a human being, the exhaustive control over all these decisions relating to the child must be gradually diminished.

Are personality, character and temperament equal?

Although these three terms have been used undifferentiated undifferentiated, the truth is that they are not conceptual equivalents. The definition of personality as a stable and permanent disposition or set of traits that guides both behavior and reasoning and emotional expression in a generic way would encompass both the concept of temperament and that of character.

Which means temperament and character are elements that form the personality that interacts together. They may not be isolated individually, but they help us understand our patterns of behavior globally and in all walks of life.

Temperament refers to the innate emotional and motivational predisposition whose manifestations are due to a more primitive biological or hereditary origin. It is a phenomenon considerably stable over time and subject to a lesser extent to ethnic or cultural interference. On the contrary, character, which is more cognitive and intentional in nature, derives from an environmental and cultural influence and is the product of external life experiences.

Bibliographical references:

  • Irwin G. Sarason, Abnormal Psychology, Misconduct Problems, Seventh Edition.
  • Neil R Carbon, Physiological Psychology, Mexico Third Edition Publishing House.
  • Galileu Ortega, JL and Fernandez de Haro, E (2003); Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Education (vol2). Malaga. Ed: Aljub.
  • Delval, Juan (1996). Human Development. 21st Century Publishers of Spain, SA

Leave a Comment