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Psychological Need for Self-Actualization in the Child

  • Post category:Needs
  • Reading time:11 mins read

In addition to physiological needs, there is a psychological need for pleasure in the form of aspiration for self-actualization. It is a man’s need to feel the values оf his personality, to receive some kind of recognition as an individual, to feel useful in the environment in the segment of his activities and abilities. Real self-actualization is experienced through the achievement of life successes, that fulfill a person with an intimate sense of satisfaction and happiness.

As the person matures, so does the need for social presence, because the man is by nature a social being. Hence, his aspiration for belonging, to live in the community and to be accepted as its full member. Isolated examples are rare, which as a rule, remain incomplete as social units.

Every psychologically healthy person naturally feels the need to be in contact with other people, and to develop a positive emotional relationship with them. The man also carries with him the need to feel empathy, friendship, to experience sexual and parental love. He also tends to be accepted by the environment, to be valued, be paid attention, longing for love, primarily for healthy relationships in the sexual community.

The feeling of community acceptance brings pleasure, pride, and peace to a man. Any pleasant feeling is actually a confirmation of the person itself, a sign that his existence makes sense. Therefore, the achievement of a pleasant feeling is the ultimate goal of human endeavor.

The child is born as a totally helpless creature, but his organism has already reached some degree of development that allows it partial independence. However, without the help of others, it cannot survive in its environment. There’s a long period of adaptation in front of it, learning, acquiring experiences, in order from day to day, to gain even more autonomy. At the beginning of its life, the child is dependent on others, most often of the parents. Without them, it cannot satisfy any of their elementary life needs. But the innate urge to survive, makes it as soon as possible to become independent, in order to secure its existence with its own forces and without any help.

A newborn absolute helplessness only reinforces its instinct for self-preservation. The challenge it faces is a powerful drive for his psychological development, the gradual independence, and an even stronger emphasis on its individuality. What the child does while growing, initially unconsciously, completely instinctively, and later consciously and rationally, for the purposes of its adaptation to the environment, is a result of its constant efforts to overcome the initial helplessness.

But the child will never gain full independence from the environment, even as an adult. Every person feels the need to rely on other people, to hope in them, to expect an understanding of his problems and help to solve them. There is no such person who does not need comfort, moral support, and a person to whom he can be entrusted. This kind of needs are the remains of the former helplessness from the period of childhood.

For a psychologically mature person, it is characteristic that, from the former full dependence, he developed into an independent person who is ready to face his own problems, life challenges, and bear responsibility for his behavior. The autonomy of a mentally mature person is based on her sense of self-confidence, the safety in solving life’s challenges with a realistic, natural attitude to life. Although this independence is never complete, a man in the later years of life still establishes a balance between his independence and the need to rely on other people.

Vice versa, a psychologically immature person is characterized by a low degree of autonomy that does not correspond to his age. In such a person, dependence on other people takes much longer than it is necessary. He lives with a sense of insecurity, without sufficient confidence in his abilities, is afraid of life challenges, avoids and conceals his shortcomings in order to satisfy the expectations that society demands from him. Most often the reasons for such uncertainty are inherited from the period of childhood.

In order not to be provoked such insecurity of the child, the parents should not demand from it to reject the innate qualities, or to deform their nature, to become a person who will be accepted in a positive way from the society.

It is true that the drive to maintain one’s own existence is the strength of a child, which makes it self-centered and disinterested in other people. But this same drive, like any other human trait, the child carries with it a contradictory need in the later period, in this case – a need for socialization.

The child will be able to develop normally and achieve full self-actualization in the environment, only if it has a positive emotional connection, i.e. mutual trust, cooperation, and adaptation. That is why, along with his egocentricity, it will express a desire to get close to other people and to make contact with them. The constant struggle of opposites, between innate selfishness and its need to be socially useful, will take place throughout its development, it will in fact become the second driving force of its behavior.

The child should not be required to reject his true nature and to suppress the drive for self-preservation just as socially acceptable. It must develop into a person who, on its own, will be counterbalancing, a counterbalance between his selfish child needs and the socially useful. The man is essentially a social being, the development of the social characteristics is a necessity in which his nature is easily adapted. But the socialization of the child will not develop by itself. Parents are those who need to awake it, encourage it, and bring it to the full expression of the child.

The basis of socialization is the acceptance of other people as full and equal participants in life flows, in the race for self-actualization and social status. Acceptance of other persons is implied only provided that we feel accepted by them, as a basic law of natural reciprocity in creating relations with the people. The child must receive love more frequently, primarily from its immediate surroundings. It should feel to be loved from people around him, that it is necessary, that it means something to them, to feel accepted with its individuality, with hits personal qualities, to have the opportunity to affirm its personality, its originality, to satisfy its needs and experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Such experiences, build up the trust of the child to other people.

After self-confidence, trust in other people is the second basic feature of a healthy personality. An emotionally stable person achieves a balance between his self-centeredness and social usefulness. He will never completely abandon selfishness as a feature of egocentricity. After all, it is neither possible nor necessary, because that peculiarity is so deeply rooted as the need for socialization. The interest of socialization in man is good only if it is in harmony with his egocentricity. But the intensity of self-centeredness is so good if it does not allow it to become harmful to other people, but it is maintained within a healthy, productive human selfishness.

Every person must, to the maximum, develop his individuality and personal values. He can do this if he is thinking about himself and directing his activity towards the benefit of his personality. If at the same time it is sufficiently socialized, then more and more, it will put its values ​​in the service of the social good. This is how the balance between self-centeredness and socialization in one person is established, and without a clear boundary, it transforms into its dialectical contradiction.

The deepened socialization of the child is an expression of his increased trust in its position in the community. When a child develops positive attitudes toward his environment, in the form of friendship, respect for, or love for the parents, it does so because it carries the emotional capacity within itself. Such capacity in the child’s awareness increases with the constant accumulation of positive emotional experiences. The more love, attention, and understanding it receives from its surroundings, the more positive emotions it will carry with it, and at the same time it will give in return.

Hence it occurs another duty for the parents. The noble duty of parents is to surround the child with tenderness and love, to take into account its personality and to cultivate it, showing an understanding of its personal qualities and needs. In the absence of such treatment, the child will remain self-centered, because its natural capacity for socialization will curtail and ultimately disappear. Such a disadvantage will be an important component in developing an eventual neurosis, both in childhood and in later life. In a person with an imbalance between self-centering and socialization, there is a lack of confidence in themselves and in other people. Therefore, such a man is insecure in himself, is more dependent on other people than normal, not resourceful or too selfish, self-lively, inflexible, associative, to extremely hostile to the environment in which he lives. The reasons for such peculiarities have been created in childhood, a period in which the preconditions and bases for a healthy natural and socially acceptable psychic development of the child are placed.

The development of the human personality starts from the two starting points:

  • Helplessness as a child
  • Self-centeredness

It moves towards the formation of parallel features:

  • The ability to independently and realistically solve life problems
  • The ability for constructive cooperation with the community

Such a course of psychological development is made possible by the fact, that the basic characteristics of the child also carry in themselves a dialectical opposition, that arises from the drive for self-preservation and existence. It is an urgent need for independence, for emphasizing one’s personality through individualization, the need for socialization, and belonging to a collective.

In order to develop the psychological development of the child in that direction, completely and fast enough, in accordance with his growth, the child should systematically develop in itself two basic life attitudes:

  • Self-esteem
  • Trust in other people

Benefits of the self-confidence:

  • A positive attitude towards oneself is the basis for any further improvement in one’s abilities

Benefits of trust in other people:

  • The positive attitude towards the environment encourages the man of commitment and cooperation in the collective life and healthy interpersonal relationships

The tasks of psychohygiene, the mental hygiene of the child, which means the task of the parents, is reduced to building a dual trust among the young person, confidence in himself and trust in the collective.

The road to this goal are the two basic methods for appropriate guidance:

  • Continuous encouragement and encouragement of the child
  • A clearly expressed love for it, accompanied by the respect of its personality and the acceptance of its individuality as full social value