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What is personality?

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Some people at times wonder: “Is personality something a child either has or does not have?” It is surprising that many people believe this to be the true. They think personality is an attribute a child is born with. If he/she is fortunate, he/she will be endowed with the ability to be popular and be influential enough to obtain a high paying job, marry the right person and live life comfortably.

Nothing is further from what has been found to be true. A person is not born with a personality. A child acquires their personality as he/she goes through life. Child Developmentalists and other behaviorists found children develop their personalities much in the same manner as they develop their ability to throw a baseball or play a violin. It has been found that children inherit the foundation of their personalities in the form of mental and physical capacities. However, the pattern of a child’s personality is built up as he/she through life’s experiences.

Personality is not a well-defined attribute like a child’s hair color, weight or other physical features. An individual’s personality consists of all her/his personal qualities, temperament, perception of their world. This makes each person unique and different from any person who has ever lived. These attributes are not inherited but is influenced by the way he/she is treated by others around them some believe within months of the conception in utero but definitely at the moment of their birth.

Unlike a child’s eye color, personality can be changed even be improved. Attributes regarding their personality can be corrected if their inappropriate behavior (or behaviors) is identified and a strong, persistent effort is made to correct them before they become too deeply rooted.

Parents/caregivers must begin early. The critical period to develop a child’s personality is during the early years of life. This is generally before a child begins pre-school or school when her/his social contacts are limited to their family members and other children in their neighborhood. Since this usually the case, parents/caregivers must recognize this is one of their most important responsibilities. That is guiding their child’s personality development in such a way that their personality will be an asset, not a liability, throughout their life.

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