By Sadiq Ali
During my seven years nursing experience, I have observed many cases of psychological disorders. One of those experiences that I am narrating here is related to a teenage boy. According to his mother he was boarded in a charity based hostel in early childhood where he lived for more than ten years. He lived at the hostel with other children for thirteen years and during this long period his parents regularly went to meet him but did not take him back to home. When the boy turned thirteen he had developed aggression, concentration problems, remains isolated, become restlessness, and homosexual. He was expelled out from hostel due to these problems. After medical inspection he was diagnosed as Schizophrenic and is under treatment.
This incident and its implications for life of not only the boy but also his parents makes me write this article about the role of parenting in personality development, according to the concept of a great psychoanalyst called Erikson. During the developmental age of children parents are mostly concerned about the biological issues of their children. Parents, generally, do not give importanceto their children’s psychological needs and issues despite of the fact that psychological and physiological matters are equally important.
According to Erikson’s psychosocial theory, personality traits start developing in early childhood and other trends in personality are built on the initially acquired traits. Personality traits like trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, identity, intimacy, and integrity start developing at earlier stages, based on physical, cognitive, psychological, and emotional development of the child.
At initial stages of life a child is heavily dependent on the physical and emotional support provided by parents and at this stage parents need to make sure that they are available for their children. Availability and support of parents at this stage develops sense of security, trust and safety among the children. This basic feeling and sense later plays a vital role in shaping overall personality traits. It has been proven that emotionally unavailable parents fail to develop these basic traits in their offspring consequently leading them to acquire negative traits, including fear, insecurity and a belief that the world is inconsistent and unpredictable.
Early childhood starts after one year of birth. At this age children start exhibiting control at a minor level. This sense of self control starts developing feeling of independence. Child feels secure and confident. Parents’ role during this period is to help children in their little activities and encourage them. Barring children from activities and discouraging them hinders their psychological development and causes shyness and self doubt.
During the pre-school years, children begin to assert their power and control over the little world they live in through games and social interactions. Researchers have found that caregivers who respond positively to children’s demands increases the children commitment to social relations and their desire to learn and comply with the norms of their social world (Ainsworth, Bell, & Stayton, 1974;Kochanska, 1993).
In this way, the caregiver fosters the development of social competence, which is essential for self –control and cognitive development. Parent should support their children during plays and support their social interaction. This makes children to capable enough to lead others. If child de motivates during their social interactions it develops sense of guilt, self-doubt and lack of initiative.
During age of 5 to 11 children starts acquiring sense of pride on accomplishments and on his or her abilities. Parents’ role in this stage is encouraged and gives constructive feedback on their accomplishments, this develops feeling of competence and belief in children skills. Strict control de motivates and develops doubt and feeling of interiority.
Adolescents are exploring their independence and developing sense of self. They need encouragement and reinforcement. This emerges with a strong sense of independence and control. If parents fail to play their role, children remain unsure about their beliefs and confused about self identity and become a confused personality.
Early adulthood is the age of exploring personal relationships. Children try to develop close, committed relationships with other people. For this intimacy sense of personal identity is very important. Children having poor sense of self identity have less committed relationships and more likely to suffer from emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression.
During adulthood is building lives, focusing on career and family. Those who are successful during this phase develop sense of generatively. They feel that, they are contributing to the world by being active in their home and community. Who fail to attain this skill will feel unproductive and uninvolved in the world, and develop stagnation.
We can see that personality traits are heavily influenced by parenting style. The personality traits tend to go till the ‘age of death’. In old age the focus is on reflecting back on one’s life; those who were unsuccessful during life feel wasted and this leads to bitterness and despair. On the other hand those who feel accomplished exhibit a sense of integrity and grace.
The contributor is a nurse at AKUH.