Personality Development

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Personality Development
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This is described as the process by which a pattern of behaviour, attributes and attitudes are developed in an individual. These attributes are distinct and make that individual different from others. A whole lot of factors are put into consideration when we talk about personality development because no two individuals are the same. They may look the same or may have had similar experiences in life but each person is unique and their reactions, learning process will always be different. Close friends or even relations that are brought up in the same household will always have their own peculiar pattern of reacting and responding various situations they face. It is even said that identical twins may look alike physically but they are still different and unique in their own way.

When we talk about personality, we refer to those attributes of a person that makes him or her special. When a child is born, there are various factors which are said to affect his personality. These are: temperament, environment and character.

Attributes of Personality Development

- Temperament
Here, we refer to traits that a child comes with into the world which are genetically determined. These traits to a major extent influence the child's approach to the world and how he or she learns in the process. From studies that have been carried out, some of these genes control the nervous system development which also controls behaviour.


- Environment
The environment in which a child grows up affects to a large extent how the personality will eventually be. It is advised that quality parenting be given to help in the proper development of the child.

- Character
This is formed from the emotional, perceptive and behavioural patterns that are learned by experience and determine how an individual thinks, feels and behaves.

An individual's personality continuously evolves throughout his life but we have seen that much of it is dependent on traits they were born with and experiences they have had through life.

Stages of Personality Development

Infant stage - 2years
During this stage, the infant begins to learn to trust or not to trust. If well taken care of and loved, will begin to develop a sense of security and have positive outlook to life. If it is also not done properly, it will lead to the infant becoming insecure.

Toddler stage - 18 months to 4years
At this state, the child begins to develop the will. If guided properly, the child begins to have self confidence. It is not an easy process and the child could be seen as being stubborn.

Preschool stage - 3 years and above
This stage is referred to by some as the 'play age.' The child begins to develop some form of initiative. They also start using their imagination. At this stage they also gradually begin to understand how to lead and follow others.

School age stage
At this stage, the child begins to learn formal skills. They begin to know how to relate with their peers and begin to develop basic intellectual skills. The success at this stage in their development will dependent on how the early stages were.

Adolescent stage
The child begins to mature at this stage and begins to nurture a set of values which will help them in life. They also begin to understand themselves at this stage.

Some Problems in Childhood Personality Development
It was observed from studies and researches, that infants who are only few weeks old show differences in their activity levels; their responses to changing situations and level of irritability. It is observed that some infants cry more while some others are happy and others are quiet.

Some children grow up into adulthood with severe personality disorders while others have good and healthy personality development. Those with these disorders usually have problems relating with others and are mostly rigid.

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They also experience difficulty facing the stress associated with daily living.

In studies done by the Child Development Institute, California, they identified nine temperamental traits that contribute or influence the personality development of a child as he grows through the various stages of life.


1. Mood
This refers to the tendency of the child to react to situations and difficult circumstances in a negative or positive way. It shows how much the child focuses on the positive aspects of life and not on the negative. If the child is serious in his approach to issues, there is the tendency that such children will grow up to evaluate situations carefully first.

2. Persistence
This trait is identifiable in children who continue in activities or games even in the face of difficulty. This refers to doggedness, stubbornness and an inability to give up no matter what. Such children are more likely to achieve any goals they pursue in life.

3. Adaptability
This refers to how a child easily adapts to changing situations and circumstances. This can also be seen in how a child switches from one activity to another. Children who don't possess this trait usually have challenges in adapting to new experiences. It also has its positives as children who don't easily adapt may not be easily influenced by peer pressure.

4. Approach/ Withdrawal
The peculiar way that a child responds in a given situation or to strangers. This talks about the child's unique characteristic.

5. Sensory Threshold
This is the trait that determines how children will respond to physical touch such as touch, smell, sound, taste and light. This also determines if children will be picky in selecting food to eat or if they will accept to eating anything they are given. It has also been observed that children who are very sensitive tend to be more creative and artistic.

6. Regularity
This refers to how the child's biological functions such as appetite and sleep can be predicted.

7. Intensity
This talks about the loudness of the child, what is unique to him or her.

8. Distractibility
This trait determines the child's degree of paying close attention or concentration when he or she is not interested in a particular thing.

9. Activity Level
Children who are highly active or hyperactive can be helped to direct the extra energy and drive they have into sports and other high energy careers.

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