The process of a child acquiring an identity is a puzzling, complex, and often invisible process that highlights the person’s transition to formulating the aware concept of self. The development of language skills, such as the ability to express feelings through sounds, words, and non-verbal communication, enables children as young as two years old to deepen their understanding of self. For example, at that initial stage, a child begins to acknowledge their gender, age, appearance, and personal characteristics (Broderick & Blewitt, 2020). These achievements mark a watershed in the development of the self-concept, and caregivers make essential contributions using labels they apply to children.
There are numerous external factors that influence the creation of the self-concept, which include but are not limited to particular attachment styles, parenting techniques, and interactions with peers. Serving as the ultimate catalysts, these specific aspects of the environment determine how the child grows up and behaves in adulthood. As Pfeifer and Berkman (2018) note, the middle ground between childhood and adulthood, adolescence, is the crucially important step in one’s development. Although teens are more socially, psychologically, and biologically developed than toddlers, their behavior is often misaligned with the ethical and moral conduct of adults. As a result, adolescents are portrayed as maximalists who are easily influenced by peer pressure.
Foundations of Identity
As it concerns adolescents, they are physically, cognitively, and socioemotionally more advanced in comparison with children. However, they tend to act inconsistently relative to adults. Numerous aspects of the external environment influence the creation of one’s identity. According to Broderick and Blewitt (2020), parenting appears to contribute to other parts of developing self-system. In particular, parenting style and practice are related to children’s self-regulation, including their ability to guide their behavior in socially approved ways when adults are not monitoring them.
The type of a child’s attachment determines how they interact with parental figures: they can obsess over them, require physical connection all the time, be unwelcoming, or have a mixed response. However, upon the child’s development to a more conscious stage, they translate these attachment styles into more complex communication patterns. For example, schoolchildren are able to conform to their parents’ rules or, conversely, avoid being compliant, which can lead to a parent-child conflict. This disagreement further shapes the way individuals experience intimacy as adolescents and adults. According to Thompson (n.d.), children develop greater competence and self-confidence when parents have high expectations for their behavior. Therefore, parents should communicate often, provide mental support, and utilize democratic parenting techniques rather than authoritative orders.
Culture plays a crucial role in self-identification and social integration. Some of the factors determining culture are socioeconomic, psychological, ethnic, racial, religious, gender, and cultural backgrounds. It is essential to know that everyone does not develop a sense of self in the same manner. However, it universally defines how a person relates to others and forms the perception of self. To specify, some cultures cultivate ultimate respect in regard to older people. However, such a cultural peculiarity does not necessarily dictate that all children are fearful of adult authority and lack self-respect. Conversely, some parents avoid being culturally typical and abstain from enforcing common values in a given society. They nurture their children’s self-concept through family customs, traditions, and parental behavior that offspring replicate and eventually adopt. Only as children take gradual steps to communicate with peers through playing and studying together, they realize and gradually accept that other cultures and values exist (Thompson, n.d.). For example, a child might experience that for some families, sports are more important than grades only when talking with a new friend in school, which might come as a shock that later is normalized.
Physical changes that occur during puberty can also impact the development of identity and self-concept. Evidently, as puberty transforms children’s bodies biologically, it also influences their psychological and social perception of self and others, which poses a set of unfamiliar, exciting, and foreign experiences to an individual. More specifically, the appearance of sexual arousal urges teens to seek romantic involvement with peers, which often includes sexualized behavior (Mental/Emotional/Social Changes through Puberty, 2020). Apart from growing sexual attraction and its interpersonal consequences, the biological growth during puberty becomes apparent to the external environment, which eventually leads to a change in public perception. To elaborate, adolescents that showcase rapid growth during puberty become more socially favored, while those who experience a delay in visible body development become less socially integrated. Overall, there is a considerable increase in attention given to the personal appearances of youngsters, which might affect their self-esteem and identity. Peer pressure, changes in hormone levels, and bodily transformations paired with the exploration of one’s self-concept also can lead to mood swings.
Influences on My Own Identity
According to Broderick and Blewitt (2020), there are three attachment prototypes in peer romantic tradition. The first type is the avoidant person who does not feel at ease when socializing. Avoidant people have issues with trust and dependence on others due to their adverse childhood experiences with the absent parent. The unconscious fear of losing a loved one makes them distant and somewhat cold in a romantic relationship. The second one is anxious-ambivalent type, and that is when a person finds that others are reluctant to get as close as they would like. Reluctant attachment makes people increasingly worried about the potential breakup. They want to get very close to their partner, and this sometimes scares people away. The last prototype is secure, which is characterized by ease in communication, dependence, and intimacy. People who feel secure attachments do not have an unconscious fear of abandonment.
I have completed the Close Relationships Questionnaire/Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised Questionnaire. The given framework aims at evaluating attachment tendencies and determining a particular pattern in various interpersonal contexts. People differ significantly in how they approach close relationships. My results from this questioner indicate that I am secure, which means I tend to have relatively enduring and satisfying relationships. I am comfortable expressing my emotions and tend not to suffer from depression and other psychological disorders. The influences on my identity and self-concept based on both the assessment results and my understanding of the readings are that my parents, culture, and puberty have played an essential role in developing my identity.
In conclusion, it can be argued that the transitional period between childhood and adolescence is a crucial period for shaping one’s identity, values, social skills, and psychological stability. Throughout this developmental stage, people seek independence from primary caregivers in order to explore the social landscape freely and increase one’s responsibilities as a preparation for adult life. As the autonomy of the individual grows, self-evaluation also becomes dominant as teens adopt more versatile and complex roles in society. Furthermore, the behavior of self-consciousness and attention towards the individuality of others becomes more prevalent in adolescence.
Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2020). The life span: Human development for helping professionals. Pearson Education.
Mental/Emotional/Social Changes through Puberty. (2020). Web.
Pfeifer, J. H., & Berkman, E. T. (2018). The development of self and identity in adolescence: Neural evidence and implications for a value-based choice perspective on motivated behavior. Child Development Perspectives, 12(3), 158–164. Web.
Sense of Self: An Introduction | VLS. (n.d.). 2020, Web.
Thompson, R. (n.d.). Social and Personality Development in Childhood. OER Services. Web.