Personality Development in Childhood: The Unique Self

Children go through various stages where they develop new skills, cognitive processes, and other mental processes such as memory and attitude formation. Childhood is indeed an age of rapid growth, and each new experience teaches a child lessons and shapes their overall character. Childhood also lays down the foundation for future years. Often, we see children looking at their reflection in the mirror. What is it that they see? When do they start seeing themselves as separate "selves" with a unique identity? Have you wondered how personality develops in children? How does a child's sense of self develop? How do a child's environment and interactions with adults around them influence how they perceive themselves?

In order to understand the formation of self-concept in children, it is important to understand models of personality development in childhood.

Personality development theories

Theories can help us understand aspects of the development process by providing a framework or lens. Some of these theories explain nearly every aspect of how people change and grow during childhood. In other cases, these theories concentrate on a more specific development aspect. Here is an illustration of major theories that explain personality development in childhood.

Personality Development: Understanding the Process

Children's personality development begins when they start seeing themselves as unique individuals. Personality is defined as a distinct set of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that emerge from biological and environmental influences. A person's personality is both inherited and acquired. In general, inherited traits are a part of evolution. Furthermore, one of the acquired personality traits is learning languages for communication.

Factors Affecting Personality Development in Children

Personality does not develop overnight in children, and various factors influence it. Some broad ones are indicated in the diagram above. Proper nutrition, good socio-economic conditions, interaction with people in the environment, societal norms, and cultural context are responsible for a child's personality development.

Development of Self in Children

In his eight stages of psychosocial development theory, Erikson explained the concept of self in children. His eight-stage model contends that personality development is a continuous process and occurs in stages throughout a person's life. What is the eight-stage model of Erik Erikson? The eight stages of psychosocial development explain the various stages that individuals go through in their lives. Each stage poses a challenge or a conflict, and personality results from success or failure in resolving those conflicts.

Each stage lays the foundation for how a person may react in the next stage. According to Erikson, self-concept develops in stage four when the child is between seven and eleven. The stages prior to this stage are important, and they help in the formation of a self-concept. For instance, in stage two, where a child learns to be autonomous, they gain independence, which boosts their self-esteem. They feel confident in carrying out their self-care.

Additionally, in the third stage, "initiative versus guilt," a child learns to take leadership and wants to try new things. Curiosity is immense in this stage, and the child wishes to try new things. This helps them to understand their potential and limitations, and they learn important skills that can become a part of their personality.

Understanding Stage Four: Industry versus inferiority

At this stage, a child is in middle school. Their primary developmental task is to achieve industry or a sense of social competence. This developmental stage is marked by competition and numerous social adjustments. Their primary developmental task is to achieve industry or a sense of social competence. This developmental stage is marked by competition and numerous social adjustments. Successfully establishing industry assists a child in developing self-esteem or an evaluative attitude toward oneself, which builds the self-confidence required to form long-term and effective social relationships. This development of a healthy self-concept is facilitated by supportive and loving parents, teachers, and friends who make the children feel competent. Children of this age who lack skills in one area usually find another in which to excel. When children of this age group lack skills in one area, they typically excel in another. Excelling in one area contributes to a child's overall self-esteem and self-worth.


It is important to understand how a child's personality develops. Parents and professionals working with children can better prepare to help them in their care if they understand how children grow, think, and behave. Understanding personality development in children helps shape their skills at the beginning when they are young, which can help them become successful adults. A healthy self-concept helps people grow into emotionally mature and confident individuals and helps parents better guide their children. Children are not born with self- concept, which develops gradually through interaction with adults and the environment.

Updated on: 12-Dec-2022


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