The LITTLE CHILD IN US
BY ANESU FADZAI GODE
Erik Homburger Erikson once said “It is human to have a long childhood. It is civilized to have an even longer childhood. Long childhood makes a technical and mental virtuous out of man, but it also leaves a lifelong residue of emotional immaturity in him.”
Behavioral Sciences have over the years designed models and theories as magnifying tools for a better perspective on childhood development. Whilst, childhood comprises of the first twelve years of life, it holds the determining keys to outlooks of adulthood. Every person embodies a little child inside, that feeds the subconscious adult mind which will in turn influence day to day decisions and actions.
Adulthood is thrilling. It is at that point in life where everyone gets the freedom to make their own decisions, go places they want, and whenever they desire to. In other words, adults get to rock and run their own lives. This stage also comes with complications, conflicts, and challenges that can be an obstacle to living a fulfilling life. Now, because adulthood has an inconsistency flowing with it each person has to be ruled by personal decisions and actions to resolve and create a balancing scale between the good and bad days. Every adult has a desire to succeed achieve dreams and goals. However, day to day decisions will determine whether that goal will be reached or it is just going to be a merry-go-round without achieving anything. It is these decisions that stem from something deeper and beyond what the human eye can see.
Child Psychology comprises of the component on Social and Emotional Development. This stage of development will leave a mark in every child’s mind that will carry them to adulthood and influence issues like decision making and responses to actions. A success in this developmental stage will prepare a child for a healthy and fulfilling adulthood that can assist in taking the necessary step to achieving goals. On the other hand, failure in this stage will result in feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and poor responses and judgements.
Erikson Psychosocial Stages of Development focuses on concepts of social and emotional development in a child and the different outcomes that could emerge. In his theory, there are eight stages of development for each individual with the first four stages stretching from Birth to School Age.
The first stage in the psychosocial development is Infancy or better known as the Oral Stage. It starts from birth to eighteen months. Major emphasis is on the mother’s love and care for the child through visual contact and touch. Many studies of suicides and attempts give much importance on this stage in developing the basic belief that the world is a trustworthy place and every person has a right to be here. Positive outcomes from this stage include Trust driven by the basic strengths of Hope and Perseverance. Negative outcomes include Mistrust. Such characteristics manifest themselves in adulthood each affecting choices in circumstances. Many people have dropped their goals and lives simply because their minds are programmed to lose trust in those around them or even in themselves.
The latter stages in child development include early childhood, play age and school age. All stages are centered on the child exploring independence and finding a place among peers and society as a whole. It is during these stages that a child learns to walk, talk, feed themselves, taking initiatives and learning. Fine motor skills development such as walking builds self-esteem and Autonomy as each child gains more control over their bodies, acquire skills and learning right from wrong. The desire to copy the adults around and taking initiatives in creating play situations is guided by the use of the word “Why” to explore the world. The school Age is the latency period for learning, creating and accomplishing numerous skills and knowledge thus developing a sense of industry.
Positive outcomes include autonomy, self-control, courage, sense of purpose and competence. Negative outcomes will leave unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among peers. Low self-esteem issues stem from the inability to perform tasks common to fellow peers which then can lead to incompetence and poor performance at work or relationships in adulthood.
What remains is to resolve the conflict between the adult mindset and the child within. Childhood memories and experiences are engraved in the brain, a part that every human being has to carry forever.However,it is important that the child within is tamed and worked on so that traumatic past events do not affect the future.Until the mind is treated as a seperate entity that has its own thinking,the brain will always be a sponge soaked with waters of unresolved childhood memories and present day issues.Such mind-conflicts will only succeed in controlling the outcomes of the future.
The human brain should be viewed as a parasite.A creature with its own needs driven by the photographic pictures of past events as its thinking machine. Some irrational decisions are products of these long gone events. The brain has a powerful force and there is need to reason and bargain with it. For instance, if the outcome of an individual’s childhood was mistrust, there is need to help the mind to realize that past events do not determine the present, that in a past world there was mistrust but the situation is different now. It can be likened to shaking the brain out of a memory trance.
Resolving childhood experiences is a journey. Consistency and patience is required along with professional guidance to ensure the best results. The little child inside of every person should be driven to a place of peace and stability so as to reach life dreams and goals.
Anesu Gode is a medical student, author and poet. She is passionate about mental health issues. She can be contacted on:
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