Role of Parents in Personality Development of Children

Being parent is a very selfless and at times quite a thankless job. The child looks up to his parents and closely observes their behaviors. Parents should be aware of the different aspects of a child’s personality development

Role of Parents in Personality Development of Children

Being parent is a very selfless and at times quite a thankless job. The child looks up to his parents and closely observes their behaviors. Parents should be aware of the different aspects of a child’s personality development

“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”

Being a parent is a huge blessing as well as a serious responsibility. When a child opens his eyes, first of all he usually sees either or both of his parents. As the child grows older, he begins to recognize his parents’ faces and starts observing and mimicking their behavior patterns.  Parents, therefore, play a vital role in the overall development of their children.

According to Jerome Kagan parents can affect their children through at least three different mechanisms; the direct interaction with the child, emotional identification, and through transmission of family stories to the child. [1]

Parenting is not just a one time contract but lifelong job. Whether your child is an infant, toddler, school going, in his teenage or even an adult, he or she will always look up to you and keep coming back to you from time to time to help them stay on the right path. It is the right guidance of parents that develops the character of the child. Parenting and child’s development have a direct relationship as it is said “Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first”. The way a child behaves and grows up into is most of the times a direct reflection of at least one or both of the parents.

Here we will discuss the different developmental phases in a child’s growth and the related factors that influence a child’s overall development as an individual;

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

Physical development is not just limited to reaching the child’s age related physical milestones. It is about encouraging the children to be more active and engaged in physical activities outside their home environment. In children, physical activity is particularly important as it improves gross and fine motor skill development necessary for academic performance (e.g., writing), self-perceived competence (academic as well as athletic) as well as increasing socio emotional adjustment and self-esteem.[2] Numerous research publications have shown that physical activity in groups and games also have social benefits as they offer children opportunities to learn new skills while developing friendships.[3] [4]

As important as having children play and do physical activities, responding to their physical well-being is just as important. Being a parent, the best way to ensure a child’s health and capability is by being active role models yourself and to lead by example. According to authors of the research published in the journal ‘Pediatric Exercise Science’ in 2003, there are two aspects of parental behaviors that promote physical activity in children; i) role modeling, which includes a parent’s interest in physical activity as well as their efforts to be active, and ii) parental support, which refers to parental encouragement, involvement, and facilitation such as providing access and opportunities for the child to be active.[5]

The parents should always remain physically active and hence the children are automatically going to be encouraged to become physically active themselves. Moore et al. found that children between 4 and 7 years of age were 3.5 to almost 6 times more likely to be active when one or both parents were active than when both parents were inactive.[6] Among the various components of parental influence, it appears that parental facilitation exerts the greatest independent influence on young children’s physical activity while it also contributes to the maintenance of physical activity habits later in adolescence.[7]

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Children who possess basic social competence are able to develop and maintain positive relationships with peers and adults.[8] Child receives the first taste of social development when parents interact with their children. Children observe your basic conversation with them and also the way you interact with your spouse. A positive interaction with parents or a good example of how the spousal arguments are settled, contributes significantly to the longevity of the child’s social and emotional development. It also helps incorporate in the child good values, team spirit and positive personality traits that will remain with the child as he grows up.

Basic social skills include a range of behavioral traits like empathy and concern for the feelings of others, team play, sharing, and perspective taking, all of which are positively associated with children's success both in school and in nonacademic settings.[9] [10] Through a parent’s positive social interactions such as hugging, talking, and sharing positive experiences, child not only learns to be affectionate but also learns to negotiate, compromise, and to be compassionate to others. These skills are associated with children's future success across a wide range of contexts in adulthood. [9]

EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Emotional development starts with the bond between the child and his parents.  The primary bond is usually between the child and his mother, while with increasing participation of fathers in the care of infants, co-bonding is seen more frequently. Healthy attachment is essential in that it provides the child with a sense of safety and security. Being social is important, but being emotionally social and connected is a key to psychological well-being, reducing feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, within an emotional context.

Children need care that promotes positive emotional health and well-being and that supports their overall mental health, including a positive sense of self, as well as the ability to cope with stressful situations, temper emotional arousal, overcome fears, and accept disappointments and frustrations. [9] Parenting styles help the child innovatively learn about love, relationships, accepting failures and overcoming them, understanding discipline, accepting feedback and the concept of award and punishment.

Positive emotional interactions also have a role in improving the attachment between parents and their children, thus helping them fit into their respective roles more effectively. Parents need to monitor the emotional development of their children and keep them away from any traumatic events that might leave a negative impact on their emotional dimension. In order to successfully raise an emotionally healthy young adult, you as parent should guide the child to develop a positive self-perception, a strong sense of safety while also making sure that the child feels loved.

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

Jean Piaget, a renowned psychologist of the 20th century and a pioneer in developmental child psychology, denounced the concept that knowledge was innate, he believed a child’s knowledge and understanding of the world developed over time, through the child’s interaction with the world. [11] Piaget classified the child’s development into four sequential periods: (1) The sensorimotor period from birth through the first 18 to 24 months, (2) the pre-operations period between the approximate ages of two and seven years old, (3) the concrete operations period that begins around age seven and continues through about 11 years old, and (4) the formal operations period that begins around age 11 and continues through adolescence.[12] [13]

Cognitive competence encompasses the skills and capacities needed at each age and stage of development to succeed in school and in the world at large. Children's cognitive competence is defined by skills in language and communication, as well as reading, writing, mathematics, and problem solving. Children benefit from stimulating, challenging, and supportive environments in which to develop these skills, which serve as a foundation for healthy self-regulatory practices and modes of persistence required for academic success.[14]

When children are growing up, positive parenting improves their cognitive, social and problem solving skills. When parents provide an environment in which children can learn and thrive, it promotes an opportunity for kids to excel in academics and/or other activities that rely on the child’s cognitive abilities. The role of the parent in this regard would be to spend more time observing and interacting with their children and to provide them with an environment where they can learn and develop their cognitive skills by getting exposed to new challenges and problem solving through brainstorming.

Being parents is a really selfless and at times thankless job. The path is nothing short of a roller coaster ride and chances are that from time to time you may get impatient and disappointed, start having self doubts about your abilities as a parent or even might think about giving up on following your child’s development. But it is important to understand that to be able to meet the developmental needs and for the well being of your child, you have to provide quality and quantity of time. No one is perfect and neither are you, therefore being parents, you can make mistakes as well. You need to keep reminding yourself that your child looks up to you and the impression you make on your child will stay with him forever. The best gift you can give to your loved one is the gift of your time, love and complete affection as it is said “Too much love never spoils children. Children become spoiled when we substitute 'presents' for 'presence'”.

Allie Leon, Chief Fun Officer

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