The development of a sense of personal identity is often a difficult process.Can this affect one's childhood?
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Yes the process of social and educational development is very important at a young age, and if there is not fostering of healthy development it can stunt the child emotionally and academically. A child should be given opportunities to find one's talent, interests, and discovered oneself at a young age so they can develop those talents or skills which will allow them to become a more productive citizen in the future.
I agree with akannan that one's childhood has a profound impact on the development of one's identity. Criminal psychology has shown that violent criminals are almost always the victims of violence in their own childhood experiences. As a teacher, I became all too familiar with the student who, in only 7th grade, identified himself as "dumb" or not good in English.
Our childhood experiences clearly do impact our growth into adulthood as we develop a sense of personal identity and a unique personality. They affect how we view ourselves, how we relate to others, and the coping techniques we employ in getting through life. Also of interest is the research that has been done in regard to one's chronological placement within the family structure. It seems to make a difference in personality development. The oldest child in a family seems to develop personality traits that differ remarkably from those of the middle child and the youngest child. Additionally, children frequently assume certain roles within their family structure, roles developed from personality differences. One child, for instance, may become the "star" of the family, while another assumes the role of the "blacksheep."
I think that the question might have to be flipped a bit to say that one's childhood has a profound impact on one's sense of personal identity. There are many respected scientists who study human interaction and development who are convinced that one's childhood has a profound impact, both good and bad, on who we are as adults. This is not to say that we are determinant creatures, that who we are as children will automatically and directly impact who we will be as adults. Yet, it does point out that there is a strong connection between our adult identity and sense of self to our childhood. This is why so many people turn to psychology and therapy to gain a better understanding of their childhood and the role it played as adult or advanced stages of identity are formed. We begin to see connections or some type of causality between our experiences as children and the people we are now. The moments when we were loved, or rejected, brought in or abused, praised and tormented- all of these, in some form another, play a large and formative role on who we are. Wordsworth wrote once,"The child is the father of the man." In this respect, he would be accurate in understanding that the people we are as adults either owe a debt to or seek to call it in from our childhood.
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