Free Children AND Self-Identity: Essay Sample
Key influencing factors
The self-identity issue in philosophy, psychology and many other social sciences reveals the identification of an unknown object based on its convergence characteristics as a result of perception and cognition. Moreover, that is the answer to the question of the individual's relation to himself. Self-identity in all its forms (both personal and social) is the most important determinant of the formation and preservation of the individual's integrity, as a person who is not aware of his role in the system of social relations (according to the factors such as gender, age, citizenship, ethnic, territorial, professional affiliation etc.) grows up being deprived of any reason not only for its orientation in society, but also definition of purposeful life strategies (Buysse & Wesley, 1993). This explains the fact that the most active self-identification phase must be developed in childhood. Since a child perceives a social environment around him, the first questions arising in his mind are "Who am I?", "What do I live for?", "Why am I different and what differs me from other children like me?" etc. (Raburu, 2015). That is the way an early analytical process starts working, but due to immaturity it is limited by external features of a child himself in comparison with other children of the same or near age (Chen, 2009). The distinguishing feature as a very typical striking criterion to identify him with is the gender.
The science approach drawing the greatest attention to the self-identity problem among the infants and children was the psychoanalytic direction founded by Sigmund Freud. In 1921, in the work named "Group psychology and the Analysis of the Ego" (1975) the world-famous psychologist used the term "self-identification" the first time in the history. The term came to the science as gender identity. While analyzing the identification phenomenon, Freud has focused on how a child adopts mother's behavior patterns which are relevant to his parents, on the generation of his own "Ego" as well as the perception of his own male or female role depending on the gender. As a child, there is a primary identification, which is a form of unconscious emotional connection with a child's mother. The secondary identification is based on a ban, due to which a child overcomes anxiety caused by threatening authority, by incorporating some aspects of the parents' behavior in his own actions. This phenomenon is called the identification of the Oedipus complex, when a boy throughout wants to take the place of his father and copy some behaviors of him as a result of the fear to be punished. According to the learning theory (Kagan, 1967) awareness of gender identity is formed in the imitation process under the influence of the environment surrounding the child. At a very early age, children observe and try to mimic the behavior of their parents. They get used to reproducing behavior of the parent of the same sex, because such an imitation is rewarded. In addition, it is known that since the birth parents relate differently to girls and boys because they imagine their future in a different way. This process is called differentiated socialization and is believed to have an impact on the formation and gender identity as well as gender roles (Freud, 1975, p. 73).
It should be emphasized that in modern psychology the influence of social factors is believed to be much more significant than the one of biological parameters inherent since birth. The majority of researchers believe that the most significant aspects of self-identity are formed in the course of education rather than under the influence of regulatory biological mechanisms (Chess & Thomas, 1980). They came to this conclusion on the basis of their observations of specially selected pairs with a clear structure of external genitalia. These results can be summarized as follows. If two babies belonging according to chromosomal analysis and the structure of the internal reproductive organs to the same biological sex, immediately after birth, are differently educated (one as a boy, and the other as a girl), in almost all cases, the nature of education will prevail on biological sex in the formation of gender identity and gender role. In other words, the child of the female biological sex, brought up as a boy, will feel like a boy playing with appropriate toys, and prefer boyish fun and clothing. Similarly, a child who has a biological male, but was raised as a girl will feel like a girl and play in that way. Extensive material collected by Money (1997) and his colleagues proved that the biological programming effects of prenatal development and genetic forces are usually not sufficient to overcome the influence of the education and the skills acquired during postnatal life.
The child's social development occurs in two related areas: socialization (mastery of social and cultural experience of its assignment) and personalization (the acquisition of independence, the relative autonomy). If the child's entry in society equilibrium is established between the processes of socialization and individualization, when, on the one hand, he learns the norms and rules of behavior accepted in this society, and on the other – makes a significant contribution to him, his personality, a child is successfully integrated in society (Denzin, 1977). Thus there is a mutual transformation within personality and environment. These processes occur at all the levels of society, including when entering the child in any particular group or community of people, and influence the formation of his specific personality traits (Maluccio, 1984). So, if there is no process of adaptation of the child to the group, then it may lead to shyness, lack of confidence and initiative, which could result in serious personal strain. The educators should encourage the children even at such an early life stage to build friendly relationship with each other based on the criteria they identify themselves with.
Psychological identity of a child contain hierarchically organized the positive and negative elements. As a child, a person is faced not only with the ideals, but also the prototype of the evil. Thus a person gets an idea of what it should not be. Positive identity is in a state of perpetual conflict with the identity of the negative. Such a dualistic perception of the world must be developed and properly corrected in time; otherwise a child will take some bad things in a wrong way because they are incapable of distinguishing their nature. Late attempts to change this dualistic view of the world in the future and to ensure that what is considered the good is actually the evil either will be just unsuccessful or even cause severe mental disorders (Bonnard, 1961).
Bonnard, A. (1961). The Parents Rôle in the Child' Development. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 3(4), pp.319-320.
Buysse, V. and Wesley, P. (1993). The Identity Crisis in Early Childhood Special Education A Call for Professional Role Clarification. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 13(4), pp.418-429.
Chen, R. (2009). Early childhood identity. New York: Peter Lang.
Chess, S. and Thomas, A. (1980). Annual progress in child psychiatry and child development. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Denzin, N. (1977). Childhood socialization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Freud, S. (1975). Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. New York: Norton.
Kagan, J. (1967). Creativity and learning. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Maluccio, A. (1984). Children and families in social environment. Children and Youth Services Review, 6(1), pp.70-71.
Money, J. (1997). Principles of developmental sexology. New York: Continuum.
Raburu, P. (2015). The Self- Who Am I?: Children’s Identity and Development through Early Childhood Education. Journal of Educational and Social Research.