To develop into an adult with a healthy and balanced personality, a child needs his environment to provide him with sufficient conditions for his development. It doesn’t have to be all right, but it’s necessary that conditions are good enough.
The following is a summary describing five major areas that contribute to a child’s psychological development.
1) Feel safe
In order to develop well, a child needs to live in a relaxed atmosphere where he feels safe. It is essential that he is in a stable and reassuring environment where his parents (or those who take care of him) are available both physically and psychologically.
The environment can be insecure in various ways such as the child is mistreated, abused, threatened with abandonment, or learns, by the circumstances, that he can lose a loved one in an unpredictable manner (e.g. death in the close family). Parents may not be available psychologically (e.g. an alcoholic parent who becomes verbally or physically abusive while drinking; a parent with significant mental or physical health problems). In such circumstances, the child spends an enormous amount of energy worrying, looking for ways to protect himself; he has no energy left, neither time nor places to learn and to flourish. In addition, in environments of violence, neglect, or unpredictability, the child learns that life is unstable and that he cannot count on others (by their presence, their affection, their support, etc.).
The child finds, depending on his temperament and the circumstances of his life, various strategies to deal with this insecurity. Strategies that he keeps as an adult and that make him wrong in his interpersonal relationships. It will tend:
To be very sensitive to rejection, to the abandonment at the slightest gesture and made of loved ones (e.g. excessive jealousy, despair during breakups or disagreements with loved ones).
To be wary of others and move away from interpersonal relationships.
It is feared that a catastrophe is imminent, that he may lose his loved ones at any time, that he may be abandoned at any time, and that it will be intolerable.
To fear loneliness, to feel helpless and victimized, to feel ever-present basic anxiety.
To get used to instability, to violence, and to be attracted, without realizing it, to people and circles providing this same instability.
2) Feel loved, respected and understood
Once basic security is assured, the child needs to feel loved, respected, and understood. For example, let his parents give him affection, hug him, tell him they love him. Also, they are attentive to his needs, that they give importance to what he experiences and feels, that they understand his emotions and that they help him understand and express them adequately.
The environment can fail at this level in various ways such as little or no care for the child; the needs of adults come first; we don’t understand our emotions, we ridicule them or we just don’t care; you don’t give him the right to feel sad or to be afraid. A child may also not feel loved by his parents, not feel wanted, or feel like he has disappointed his parents’ expectations.
In these contexts, the child can develop a feeling of not being up to it, a feeling of inferiority (“they did not like me, did not care about me because I am not good enough”). He can develop the belief that no one can really love him, not if you know him in depth.
Learn to make your kids special by showing love in these ways.
As an adult, depending on his temperament and the circumstances of his life, he may develop a self-image and the types of interpersonal relationships that cause him harm. It will tend to:
To feel an inner void, an emotional lack.
To develop relationships of emotional dependence where he needs the other as oxygen, otherwise, he feels helpless, without identity, without meaning in his life.
To sacrifice his needs to be loved, to submit to others, and to attract people who take advantage of his generosity. In the long run, he may develop bitterness towards others because relationships are not fair, and he will tend to be anxious and depressed.
(Or on the contrary) To keep a distance from others, to be lonely, or to maintain superficial relationships where it does not really allow others to know him deeply.