The child’s living environment, which affects the shaping of its personality, consists of three basic factors:
- Wider social community
In these environments, the following factors mostly affect the child’s psychological development:
- The personalities of the parents, their behavior and their mutual relations
- The emotional attitude of the parents towards the child and their educational measures
- The child’s knowledge of gender and gender relations
- The child’s experience of self-worth and his or her position in the community
In each person, the mental functions are interconnected in a specific, individual way, according to which each person differs from other people. This set of mental functions seen from the different aspects of mental development is called personality. The human being is more or less constantly changing. With each new feature that adds or subtracts from the existing ones, it creates a uniqueness of the personal attitude towards life, towards oneself and towards the people around oneself. From this personal attitude called character, it depends on how the person will deal with life’s challenges such as: work tasks, personal problems, how they will fit into the community, how they apply their abilities, knowledge and experience, in short, how they will behave.
There are attempts to classify personality types. Such attempts fail due to the fact that each person is specific in their own way. There are no two identical individuals and therefore cannot be classified in any type. Each person, with his own character, is a type for himself. What’s characteristic for every person is that, in every activity with his behavior, he acts as an individual, as an indivisible whole, as a combination of mental functions. Every emotion, thought, aspiration, motivation, gesture, saying and action are unique to each person.
The persona is a meaningful structure. Elements of that structure are so interconnected that they can lead a person to a certain goal with their behavior. In many situations, human behavior is unconscious, but it is still present and acts within the person as the initiator and a direction. The meaningful initiative and direction of action in a person is most obvious when a person finds himself in a dilemma between two opposites. When making a decision, one usually does so in accordance with one’s individual life goals. Sometimes they are clear and precise, in the focus of conscious behavior and easy for rational assessment, but other situations they are hidden in the subconscious of the person, from where they influence the human behavior. That is why man often cannot understand why he behaved in a certain way in a certain situation. Usually, he needs to think in order to understand the real motives of his reaction that led to the situation to make a certain conscious or subconscious decision.
Characteristic for the human being is the conscious connection with his environment. From the first day of life, the child comes into contact with its environment, first physically and biologically, and later psychologically. The environment influences the child, encourages it to develop, forces it to adapt to living conditions and thus stimulates it to change and improve, to enrich its experience and to direct its skills or learn new ones. The child grows under the influence of its surroundings, but at the same time it affects the environment as well. The child responds to what is happening around it in an attempt to adapt to the environment, but also makes attempts to change circumstances in its favor as much as possible.
From the beginning of life, the child lives among people who treat it in a certain way and experience it differently. The child reacts to all of this. When some form of environmental behavior is repeated more often, it leaves an impression on the child. The child establishes a reaction to it and it slowly becomes a constant habit. In fact, that is how the child’s attitude towards the environment is built, i.e. towards certain life situations. If, for example, the child sees that others are repeatedly performing its duties, it will stop doing them and will constantly wait for someone else to do it for him. If, on the other hand, it often sees that the parent is rude and abusive, the fear becomes a habit and the child becomes frightened in advance before there is a meeting between it and the parent, that is, it loses confidence in the parent.
But the environment also responds to the child’s behavior. With its behavior, the child can influence on the change in the behavior of the parents. The parent may react to a spoiled and passive child by changing the parenting regime in an authoritative sense. He will then force the child to engage in an activity for which the child is unprepared for because of the previously lost time, at a time when the child should already be fully capable of such an activity. He will criticize, punish and thus turn his passivity into an emotional conflict, which will create a basis for a neurotic reaction in the child. Or vice versa, he will act carefully by avoiding an authoritative approach and will use a positive attitude towards it in order to increase trust and correct the missed time in order to achieve a final change in the child’s behavior.
Proper actions by the parent usually cause a positive reaction in the child, and thus the child is formed in a person whom the environment treats in a constructive way. It is understood that only in such relationships between the child and the environment will the child continue to develop into a person with a strong mental health. Incorrect parenting methods cause the child to behave negatively. Most parents fail to realize this, and they continue to make the same mistakes, or worse, worsen their upbringing. Then the child’s behavior becomes more and more negative. But it can be corrected if the environment changes its attitude towards it over time.
The long-lasting, consistent attitude of the parents towards the child increasingly establishes the characteristics of its personality. The older a child is, the harder it is to change its life habits and attitudes. Not only is this due to the long-term upbringing in a certain way, but also to the fact that as the child gets older and more mature, the changes affect him.
This imposes two tasks in the process of shaping the child’s personality:
- When assessing the environmental factor and its impact on the shaping of the child’s personality, the age of the child should always be taken into account. For example, if a two-year-old is separated from his mother and needs to be hospitalized for three months, it can seriously affect his personality development. Three to four years later, the impact will be smaller, and a pre-pubertal child is likely to experience this without deeper emotional turmoil.
- In order for the child to develop into a healthy person, as early as possible, from the very beginning of the child’s life, they should be applied as much as possible according to the correct educational methods. In early childhood they would have a stronger impact than later. Upbringing mistakes in a young child should be minimized as much as possible, because mistakes in parenting at that age are more dangerous than in its later development. How successful parents are in raising their children will depend on their prior knowledge of proper parenting.
The right attitude of the environment towards the child makes the young person more emotionally resilient. When adults treat their children in a healthy way, they gain more and more confidence in them. Then, some mistakes in the parent’s behavior towards the child will remain without significant consequences. In contrast, the wrongly raised child, who has no confidence in his surroundings, will react with excessive negative behavior, even to small irregularities. For example, a well-behaved child will respond to an unjustified ban from his parents with almost imperceptible resentment and no outbursts. The wrongly raised child will likely respond to the same ban with outrage and impudent behavior.
The child who has built an attitude of extreme distrust towards the environment, with such emotion experiences the correct actions of its parents. It will change its behavior only when it feels consistency in the positive attitude of its parents towards it. That is why it is much harder to re-educate a poorly bred, deformed child than a well-bred child from the beginning. For the re-education of the child, it requires much greater skill, patience and professional knowledge from the parents than with the normal upbringing.
Although the impact of the environment is crucial for the shaping of a child’s personality, the child’s psyche is not an impersonality from which parents can do whatever they want. It should be borne in mind that the child is born with certain psychological preconditions that are already embedded in his personality. It is true that these inherited characteristics manifest differently depending on the intensity of the impact on the environment, however they remain to influence the formation of individuality in humans.
The existence of congenital preconditions in the shaping of the personality in a child is the reason why the same educational measure cannot be expected to have an identical reaction in all children. The formation of a person will depend on how the environment treats him, but in the final shaping they will always have a certain share and innate prerequisites, which are different in each individual.
Therefore, one should not ignore or strive for the child to adjust at any cost to the wishes of the parent, but should take into account and respect its individuality. Congenital prerequisites such as personality traits cannot be changed, so the parent should adjust to them, not the other way around.
The young child easily adapts to the influences of the environment. During its development, the child’s “I” is gradually built, and it becomes an increasingly definite and increasingly solid subject, which in its own way experiences the various influences of the environment. Increasingly, the individual “I” opens up opportunities for the child to act proactively in its environment. According to Adler A., precisely because of the proactively creative “I”, children differ from each other, as well as the difference in their reactions to the events around them.
Due to their proactive attitude towards the environment, children over time become mentally capable of defending themselves from negative factors, completely rejecting or at least mitigating their influence. Therefore, most children do not develop into deviant individuals despite many parental mistakes in the parenting process.
All these facts lead to the conclusion that the environment is a very powerful factor in the development of the personality of the child, but not omnipotent. In addition to the environment, other factors in the mental shaping of the child’s personality also play a smaller role. Above all, these are innate psycho-physical predispositions and the increasingly expressed creative “I”. Therefore, with the upbringing of the child, absolute results cannot be achieved, but it is necessary that the goals of the upbringing and the ambitions of the parents are adjusted to the individuality of each child.