Updated: Jun 25
Whilst it might sound a bit far-fetched, the great Greek philosopher Aristotle had a point. When it comes to child development, it’s been said that the most crucial milestones in a child’s life occur by the age of 7. This is the age that is described as a critical period for language acquisition, brain development and cognitive ability.
As a child is growing and developing, they look to significant adults to learn how to interact with others. If those adults behave in dysfunctional or unhealthy ways, the chances are high that children will mimic these unhealthy behaviours, even if unintended. The ways in which their role models interact with them, as well as each other, shape their view of the world and those around them.
Early childhood is a time when children's personalities are developing rapidly with them using familiar adults and older children as role models. Characteristics such as funny, shy and moody can often be attributed to a child's nature and be a recognisable trait in someone they know. This will, in turn, affect three fundamental structures: our sense of self, the way we communicate, and how we form relationships.
Children who are optimistic and resilient, who have some control over their lives and feel like they belong are more likely to have good mental well-being. However, certain risk factors can make some children more likely to experience mental ill-health than others. These factors include having a long-term physical illness, a parent who has had mental health issues or problems with alcohol, or the death of someone close to them.
Behaviour in childhood can predict future partnering prospects. Children who are extremely anxious or inattentive are considered less likely to form relationships where they share equal responsibilities with a partner. Children presenting as aggressive or oppositional may find maintaining relationships difficult and are more likely to separate from and return to partners over a period of time. Sociable children who are considered to be kind, helpful and considerate tend to show earlier and more sustained partnerships in adulthood.
Relationships where the effects of abuse manifest in dysfunctional interpersonal contact may be the result of attachment disruptions at pivotal points in their childhood development. Unless we do the work to develop more self-awareness of our behaviours, we will usually repeat these same patterns into adulthood.
Knowing where issues with our behaviour start is the key to addressing, modifying and endeavouring to make positive steps to eliminating negative behaviours. Where physiological, psychological, neurological or emotional factors are present, understanding the origin is of great value in accepting and affecting permanent change.
Considering support in adulthood to affect behavioural change:
Are you an adult with challenging behaviour?
Do you demonstrate anti-social characteristics?
Have adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affected your life as an adult?
Do aspects of your behaviour make you feel uncomfortable in social situations?
Would you like to improve personal or work-based relationships that affect your behaviour or are affected by it?
Has a diagnosis led you to wanting to explore your behaviour, feelings or interactions with others?
Contact me to see how I can help:
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