Most of my undergraduate study in Psychology spoke about how childhood years shape an individual. How what a person experiences in his early days (first five years, to be precise) leave a lasting impression on the way he thinks, feels, behaves till the time he dies.
So, go back to your earliest memory, and that will hold a clue to something significant in your life.
Mine would be when I was about 6 or 7, and I answered a call from some important dignitary from abroad. This gentleman was amazed at the way I took the call – my language competency (English), my polite and professional tone (even at that age) and my responsible deportment. He conveyed his appreciation to my Uncle (Abba) and I was praised to the skies. Till date, neither he nor I have forgotten this incident. I guess that this shows that I perform my duties sincerely and aim to be valued. And it’s true – my life revolves around being praised for things that I do and say. Ask anyone in my life how I crave for feedback about the smallest of things and how I feel lost without acknowledgement and appreciation.
However, that’s still a very late experience. Try coming up with something you went through when you were maybe 3 or 4…
Another incident I could share with you would be when I was locked in a bathroom with 3 lizards. I was at my mum’s place in Jabalpur, M.P. and while the rest of the family was watching TV downstairs, I tiptoed up to the bathroom to take a leak. Barely had I shut the door and perched myself on the pot than I noticed a huge lizard on the door and 2 others on adjacent walls. Now picture this – I couldn’t pee coz of the lizard’s proximity to the flush tank, and I couldn’t get out because one of the hideous monsters was straddling the door knob. My scariest moment ever. And since then, I’ve got a phobia, a dirty hatred and disgust for the vile slithery devils. Anywhere I see them, I’m bound to do a hop-skip-jump and scream and cringe and freeze in helpless agony.
Ughhhh… the thought itself is sickening.
So… back to my subject for the day - How a baby’s first five years determine his development and life course…
Now this can be said in complicated terms, but I’m gonna KISS – Keep It Short and Simple.
Reinforcement plays a major role in defining a person’s habits and behaviors. Any action that is followed by a pleasant consequence will be repeated, and any that is succeeded by a negative consequence shall be ended. Ever wondered why children cry and throw tantrums? When they do that, their parents or others fulfill their demands in a bid to pacify them. And so, whenever the kid wants anything, he tends to utilize the same method and get his desires satisfied fast and easy.
Yet, I have seen some folks hit their babies when they are already crying and upset. I’m not very sure how that helps, as the baby only bawls louder and someone else rushes to his rescue!
Why am I talking about this? Hey, there’s a cute infant in my family, and I want to see him grow up and become a happy, contented individual. Not someone who is manipulative or cranky or unsure about things in his life and attitude. So whenever my mum tries to make things extremely tough for him, I find myself taking a mature stand and planning reachable targets for him. When he seeks attention and asks for sympathy, I talk strictly with him (not that he understands any of it) and ask him to mend his ways (which obviously he doesn’t). I know it’s too soon, but I’m not taking any chances.
When you look around at the people in your life, you observe that some are just too pessimistic, some overly competitive, some timid beyond limit and some nasty and boorish. Get talking to their family about their conduct as a child. You shall be surprised by how it relates to their current disposition. About how a person always wants his way as his family never said no to him or taught him to consider others’ feelings and needs. About how a girl enjoys getting men up close and then turning them down just to reinstate her misguided sense of worth and attractiveness. About how a person always needs to prove himself because he was never taken seriously as a child… It’s not funny the stories that you will hear and the secrets you will unravel…
And you thought psychology, counseling and therapy were funny activities for recreation and making a quick buck…