Have you ever wondered why your child behaves the way he or she does, and wondered out loud if it was the food you fed him or the fault of your partner’s defective genes? You are not alone.
Behavioural changes occur most rapidly in pre-school children. Some attributes cause us to smile in approval while others are a cause for concern. In our minds, we compare our child with others and find ourselves saying things like “Why can’t you be more like Timmy?!” or “Stop running around so much!” or “Go play with other kids!”
I’ve friends who have outgoing personalities but their children are the direct opposite. Often times they wondered what went wrong. Such binary thoughts of “right” and “wrong” will have a negative impact on the child’s identity. If you can understand how your child’s mind works, maybe you would be able to help your child make better sense of the world around him, and develop a healthy dose of self-esteem earlier in life.
The human behaviour and how the mind functions are topics that fascinate me. I sometimes wonder if only I was able to travel back in time, I could somehow change my entire life by making a few changes to the way I was brought up. And since the time traveling technology is not yet a reality (not to mention the magnitude of crisis that an existential paradoxical repercussion could result from such an anomalous event), I humbly sit by my computer to write an article that might perhaps be useful to young parents and their progeny.
Signs of Personality Development From The Very Beginning
At birth, our brain contains 100 million neurons and each of this has 100 thousand connections. Only 3 months later, there are only some 10 thousands left. What happens during those vital months is that depending on the environment we are in, some connections will be activated and most will die off because they are not used. This natural process will determine who we are and what we enjoy doing in life.
An infant has only 3 coping strategies – Fight, Flight, and Freeze. At rest, the brain goes into a standby mode. The infant will experience these four different states and idealise one of them which will make a defining impact on who they are as individuals. It forms their identity.
Infants whose identities are based on Fleeing will enjoy movement and change while those who have more developed Fighting state will enjoy challenges and winning. Infants who favour the Freezing state are more likely to exhibit caring and sharing characteristics while Infants with a more pronounced Standby state enjoy contemplation and thinking.
When a child is able to achieve the desired actions of his identity with ease, he will start to build a personality type that prefers instant gratification, appears to have no constraints and portray a preference for the aesthetics. The child leans towards being an extrovert.
When a child has to work harder to achieve his identity, you might find that the child appears to be more self-disciplined, values efficiency over beauty, and can be motivated by delayed gratification. The child leans towards being an introvert.
This forms the basis of how the child’s reaction to surrounding events. Little by little your child’s early life experience fills up the gaps of his personality and that forges his perspective of the world as he grows older.
Sometimes, doing what’s best for your child could in fact be hampering his development. In the next article, we take a look at how children form their secondary personalities and how parents can affect their child’s motivation and self-esteem.
Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.
When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.