I love the process of life as it allows development and interaction with our environment. A child born in an urban setting could grow up with pets. As the child grows, they learn that they have the unique ability to communicate with others, while their pets do not.
They also become aware that they interact well with other children, be it in the family, the neighborhood, or at school. During this interaction, every child starts to take up a role that allows them to fit into their social group/s. At home, these roles are further put into practice where their parents either foster or discourage them.
The affirmation of a parent encourages a sense of self-belief that the child identifies with. You see the interaction at home as the child tries to navigate life and absorb knowledge to help them feel that they belong. This affords them the ability to understand the origins of their family; the line of profession the family has adopted, and therefore what their aspirations could be.
As the child develops, identity starts to mean different things to different people. It might be about who you hang out with, what music you listen to, where you live or what ethnicity you are. Simply, your identity is ‘who you are’. Our identity usually begins forming during one’s childhood, which influences how the individual defines themself during adulthood.
The adolescent years are especially crucial to an individual because the identity development is then explored further and an almost definite unique identity is formed. At times, the identity goes hand in hand with the traditions of the family, and sometimes the functionality of the home the child grows up in can play a significant role.
Identity formation during the adolescent stage is extremely vital. According to Erik Erikson – a reputable psychologist, if an adolescent does not understand their beliefs and values, they fall at risk of experiencing an identity crisis. He suggests that identity development is a key process for an adolescent to develop a stronger sense of self.
The development of one’s self-awareness through self-esteem and self-concept has a great influence on one’s mental health. A poor sense of self-concept often leads to various mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic incident often impacts the self-concept and self-esteem of an individual bringing about signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and other symptoms linked with various mental disorders such as poor sleep and appetite, anger, withdrawal from society and feelings of helplessness or worthlessness.
Children learn from emulating their environment and thus a parent would also need to feel adequate as a role model for their child, nurturing them to embrace their strengths and relate with their formed version.
Identity as a whole should create a sense of safety in their strengths, belonging and trust. It helps one to expound their knowledge and keep the hunger for learning and excellence alive!
Written by Nancy Kabiru Founder and CEO, Hisia Psychology Consultants LTD Sakina Kalyan Therapist at Hisia Psychology Consultants LTD 0745 526 108. Social Media: Facebook: Hisia Psychology Consultants Instagram: hisiapsychology Twitter: @HisiaPsychology LinkedIn: Hisia Psychology Consultants YouTube: Hisia Psychology Consultants