What Is Personal Development in Early Childhood? 6 Critical Dimensions Every Parent Should Know

One of the most important aspects of early childhood personal development is cultivating a positive attitude.

Early Impact Parenting Plays a Huge Role

Positive mindsets can motivate kids to take on challenges, help them cope with challenges, and promote self-efficacy.

As parents, we can help our kids develop this mindset so that they understand the value of persistence, perseverance, and dedication.

It is also helpful to instill these values in children as they grow up. The following are five tips to cultivate positive attitudes in children.

To be able to instill positive values in our children we need to under the 6 crucial dimensions of personal development in early child hood.

Psychodynamic View Of Personal Development

The Psychodynamic view of early childhood emphasizes how experiences during the earliest years of life shape an individual’s personality.

This view suggests that our early experiences have an impact on the way we act years, if not decades, later.

This view focuses on the development of interpersonal relationships as a way to develop and separate ourselves from others.

In early childhood, we are likely to develop an intensely complex relationship with one or more of our significant other(s).

When children are young, they begin to develop their ethical and moral rules.

They also develop their superego, a part of their personality that helps them decide whether or not they should do something.

Psychodynamic theory explains that certain behaviors may be caused by a child’s early experiences, or by not completing some stages. This theory is a useful guide for those who are trying to understand why they behave the way they do.

A critical period in the development of psychodynamic theory occurred in the 1980s, when the psychodynamic model came under severe criticism.

Lost in Care, a group of influential child care researchers, concluded that many residential care homes were isolating young people from their families.

The geographical isolation of many homes, based on psychodynamic principles, was cited as a contributing factor.

The homes were often not accessible to the parents of children living there, which made reunification impossible.

Biologically based temperament is often linked to gene expression. In fact, genes that are involved in mood and personality are often expressed in large numbers in the brain.

Biologically Based Temperament

They include those involved in synaptic plasticity, associative learning, and stress reactivity.

Studies show that these genes are highly expressed in the brain and often interact with other genes involved in basic housekeeping processes.

These interactions, and the co-expression of genes, enable researchers to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy character profiles.

Many researchers use a similar approach to categorize children. Kagan and colleagues, in 1988, classified children into two subgroups: inhibited and uninhibited.

These subtypes remained stable until about seven years of age, although children who were uninhibited at that time were more likely to be aggressive as adults. These findings suggest that early temperament is highly relevant in shaping the development of a person.

Moreover, a child’s biologically based temperament influences their ability to control their emotions.

This process starts when the infant is born. Researchers observe newborns to assess their reactivity to multiple types of stimulation and older children to evaluate attention-based regulatory capacity.

Both methods rely on caregiver report methodology, which involves interviewing the caregiver about how frequently they see and experience behavior that is related to the child’s temperament characteristics.

Interaction With Others

The study involved four integrated special groups of children, with groups representing higher and lower levels of peer interaction.

Twenty-three of the fifty children were identified as having special needs, with teachers reporting difficulties in language, self-regulation, and interaction.

The professional teams included two Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teachers and a teaching assistant. Despite the differences between the groups, the findings highlight the importance of interaction with others for personal development in early childhood.

Researchers conducted the study within an inclusive environment, with typically developing children playing with children with Special Educational Needs/ Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEN/SEND).

In this setting, children with SEN spend much of their time with typically developing peers. The study involved twelve videotaped play sessions, comparing children’s initiative with the responses of adults. The children’s responses were also examined, pointing out the importance of peer interaction in personal development.

The study found that children who spent time with peers with special needs were significantly more likely to be engaged in peer interactions.

The development of the social-emotional skills of infants and toddlers is largely dependent on interactions with adults. Children develop the skills needed to engage in healthy relationships with others based on their experiences with adults. The close relationships they form with their caregivers foster the development of these social-emotional skills. They also develop their ability to react appropriately to different people and to identify their needs.


Research on the subject of self-control in early childhood has focused on two important stages of childhood: preschool and adolescence.

These years are characterized by drastic changes in brain structure and function.

Research on adolescent self-control has focused on the development of impulsivity, risk-taking behavior, and sensation seeking.

However, the development of self-control in early childhood is far less explored than it is during the early years of school.

In an effort to understand how self-control in young children is developed, researchers studied the behaviours of two and three-year-olds during a sixty-second delay of gratification tasks.

Previous studies on young children suggest that initiation of self-distraction and active avoidance behaviours is relatively slow in this stage of development.

In contrast, children with higher levels of self-control showed greater shifts in hand withholding from visual attention than did those with lower self-control levels.

In the study, half of the participants were told to be mindful about what they ate while the other half were told to follow a three-step ritual before eating.

The ritual required the participants to arrange their food on the plate symmetrically and press the eating utensil onto it three times before swallowing it.

After completing the ritual, the women consumed fewer calories and sugars than the non-participants.

Social Understanding

Infancy is a critical period for developing social understanding.

At this age, infants begin to understand the thoughts and emotions of others and develop the ability to read other people’s actions and expressions.

This early understanding of others’ emotions and thoughts contributes to social competence, interpersonal sensitivity, and awareness of self in the complex social world.

This is an important skill for children as the social nature of human life requires them to communicate with other people in a variety of settings.

Moreover, children’s impulse control helps them adapt to social situations, observe rules, and follow them.

Impulsive control develops in infants as they become more familiar with the world and with other adults.

Impulsive-control practice is an important part of early childhood development, and group care environments offer many opportunities to develop impulse control. Moreover, peer interactions enable children to learn social skills such as sharing and cooperative play.

Infants begin interacting with other people when they are just three months old.

These interactions help them form close attachments with adults, develop a sense of self, and learn to interact with other children and adults.

Through predictable interactions with caring adults, children develop skills in social understanding and interaction.

The ability to understand and respond to other people is essential for healthy social and emotional development.

So, nurturing a child’s close relationships with adults is an important part of early childhood development.

Goal-Oriented Behavior

There are several important developmental milestones that influence the development of goal-oriented behavior.

These include a transition period between two and three years of age, when toddlers move from stimulus-outcome learning to fully intentional goal-directed action.

As toddlers mature, they can pursue specific goals without direct sense and become sensitive to changes in goal values.

They also internalize the relationship between themselves and events, and learn to regulate their actions toward the goals they value the most.

Healthy goal-directed behaviour doesn’t involve short-term rewards but involves healthy end-points.

Children love to reach ‘there’ despite not knowing where to go.

Ultimately, this feeling is a source of self-esteem for them. However, most children do not know where to find that ‘there’.

The ‘where’ part of goal-oriented behavior isn’t as important as the actual goal itself, so parents should make sure that they know exactly what the end-goal is before the child begins to engage in the behaviour.

Another way to enhance the likelihood of children completing goals is to include a mental contrasting strategy known as “mental contrasting.

This technique involves making a wish and a choice about a goal. It should be done with the child’s involvement in decision-making and should involve him/her in the process.

Then, if the goal is met, it is likely to be met and reinforced. Eventually, this behavior will become a lifelong habit.

Final Thoughts

In order to play meaningful and impactful roles in our parenting, we need to understand the basic dimensions of personal development in early childhood.

This way as parents we are in a position to inculcate positive values in our children early enough and set them on a trajectory beyond basic development to excellence.