Previously published in Examiner
Part 9 of the personality development series
At the beginning of the series we started off with a question, then we got into criminal defense and personalty and then some theories of personality development by the early psychoanalysts. Now let’s look at that first question again.
Do we really know who we are? Or, are we who other people want us to be? As you all know the parents play an important role in the development of a child, but they are not the only influences.
When children begin to explore the world, they go out to school, they make friends, they join social groups, play sports, and so on. All of the people whom they come in contact with influence their personality.
Sometimes children grew out of these influences if they do not find any meaning for them anymore. However, some of these influences will play major roles in their personality type as they grow up.
Internalizing what other people say
Teachers are a big influence on children. A child who is told he or she cannot learn, more often than not gets discouraged and does not try to learn, or take on new challenges, simply because these feelings of inferiority have been ingrained. These children begin to feel they are stupid based on another person’s assessment of them.
A school aged child who is told anything by a peer or a mentor will believe it. Peer pressure is a one of the main influences on the growing child. Children who are told they are ugly begin to believe it, even when their parents and other adults tell them it is not so. The internalization of these feelings can build an ego or break it, depending upon what is said by their peers. Erikson, noted that peers are actually the strongest influence in an adolescent’s life. Teens distance themselves from their parents and follow the crowd. It is so important for a teen to fit in. When this doesn’t happen the teen can carry these feelings of inadequacy all his or her live.
Teenagers who have trouble making friends, or who have trouble with dating, can grow up shy and avoid people, or just not try to get a date thinking nobody wants them anyhow. Without friends, children who then become adults have poor social skills, which further isolates them and makes it even harder to make friends.
Montreal psychologist and mental health center
Lisa Santa-Maria Barbagallo
Queen Elizabeth Health Complex
Montréal, QC H4A 3L6