Simplified Principles of Human Development

Simplified Principles of Human Development

human development

Ages 0-7 years

These principles of development begin for all humans at birth. The infant from day one does two demonstrable things:

He has a need to end the feelings of discomfort from bodily hunger and pain.
Secondly, he has a need for the opposite of this – bodily comfort warmth and human touch.

There is a quick identification of people to solve these above needs. Recognition by the infant that the closest people (usually mother or father) will meet these needs (or not) occurs sometime between birth and six months. Even without language the infant wishes for:

Unconditional acceptance, affection, warmth, support, nurturance and eventually protection.

Ihe infant wants to avoid rejection, abandonment, rejection and punishment manifesting behaviors to indicate that very early.

During the next twenty years there is a sharp learning curve to define (with language) how to attain the positive life giving needs and how to avoid the negative ego-deflating needs primarily from the parental figures that he or she is most bonded to. This l;earning defines the well being of the individual and has life long consequences in the beliefs, values, feelings and interactions of the individual. All that is learned from the parental figures by modeling, I.e. from the parents behavior, is silently incorporated, unchallenged luntil early adolescence and becomes a series of automatic responses that mold the child’s behavior and defines his interactions with other adults. Whether the learning represents truth in a normative sense isn’t important because it is truth to the developing child. Much of the learned information comes from mis-teachings and constitutes mis-learnings. This is particularly true in the expression or witholding of feelings. ( for example: boys don’t cry, girls don’t get angry, and both sexes shouldn’t be afraid). H

During these early years the child quickly learns that as the center of his universe he has the power to create or remove feelings of acceptance or rejection from others and quickly assumes the responsibility for this (ex. – don’t hurt others feelings)

Remember, the parent or parent figures teach each one of us how to avoid criticism, rejection and abandonment and how to acquire love, affection and acceptance. Most of the early years from birth to the beginning of the second decade of life are filled with examples of these behaviors from all bonded parental figures.

Here is where the complexity begins because each parental figure teaches differently creating a degree of confusion for the child which has to be later differentiated into “what do I have to do for male acceptance and female acceptance?”

Now, in fact, because of the human condition and our similarities, there are only a few major (uncorrupted) ways to achieve the goal of acceptance and avoidance of rejection. These motivators or drivers become central to each of us in both the development of self concept and in our accomplishments in life. They are key to the highly motivated achievers as well as to those who don’t achieve or the underachievers. They explain our creative power or lack of it. Although there are corollaries to each of these motivators it must be remembered that they are the ways in which we have learned to acquire acceptance, love, support, nurturance and avoid rejection, criticism and abandonment from our parental models.

The five motivators of drivers are as follows:

1. To please others – we spend early years really trying to please those who are important to us. Later = sometimes much later in adult life we learn how to please ourself. Only rarely is a child allowed to please himself exclusively without the expectation of having to please the parent. In situations where the child is left to raise himself he may learn how to please himself and not the value of pleasing others.

2. To be perfect – if perfection is important to the parent it becomes a major motivator to the child. If the expectation of perfection is excessive and the child perceives it an impossibility then it leads to rebellion or lack of motivation most often manifested by non-performance. If the child has the abilities to approach lperfection in the parents eyes it becomes a major driving force in his life. In its extremes it is the basis of all excellence in sports, education and creative application often consuming the individuals life and establishing the same requirement in relationships and their own children. Inability to fulfill the perceived expectation of perfection has serious life long emotional consequences for those who fall short. Unless a relationship partner has similar “goals” it can lead to disaster in relationships.

3. The “try hard” driver is the effect of one or both parents emphasizing “never quit”, success comes from trying your best no matter what. Perfection isn’t as important, only the good old “stick-to-it” attitude. The message is that you can accomplish everything by trying hard. If you want my love and not my rejection – just keep trying, harder and harder. The over achiever often has this driver and is respected for “how hard he tries.”

The message is to “try hard” and you will succeed. The most serious outcome from people trying hard but not succeeding is depression, feelings of failure and occasionally suicide. “No matter how hard I try something always goes wrong.”

4. The “hurry up” driver is more often one that is important to the female parent. In this case perfection, trying hard and pleasing becomes secondary to hurrying up. There is always a long laundry list attached to this driver with the admonition “if you don’t hurry up you won’t have time to get all these things done – so hurry up”. This is a task oriented, no time to smell the roses motivator with the consequences of an inability to enjoy peace and serenity because there is always more to do than time allows.

5. Finally, the “be strong” driver typically comes from the male parent. If you want my love and acceptance then you have to be tough and show no emotions (except maybe aggression). This driver tends to pervade the males in our society and has led to the deplorable situation of men not knowing their feelings and not being able to express their feelings which by my definition (see definition of intimacy in The Nature of Human Feelings), makes intimacy impossible, limited or non-existent. It has also led to the huge disappointment in women who desire an intimate relationship and expect it from a male. Unfortunately men are of the incapable of being intimate if “being strong” was an early modeling behavior by the predominant male in his life. Disaster comes to the sensitive male or female child who is not respected for his sensitivity but is criticized and rejected for it.

. While these modeled drivers are basic to child development, the variation and extent that they were imposed on the child by different parents makes for a very complex matrix of possibilities of outcomes. It is further complicated by each of us having certain genetic “givens” which don’t change substantially during life. These three givens of intelligence, activity level and libido or sex drive plus the genetic constitutional differences in personality of children within the same family often leads to unique effects even though the strength of imposition of the drivers on each child may be the same.

These “givens” make for the success or failure of the application of these drivers. Unfortunately, many parents apply the same standards to all their children regardless of these unchangeable differences. As a result many children feel that they can never achieve the desired acceptance and love from the parent who has stressed one or more of these drivers either by example or demand. Regardless, the child always perceives the parental expectation. Lower self concept from this feeling of failure resulting from the criticism and rejection in being unable to satisfy the parent if often the result.

For example, a child with a lower activity level will always have a lower activity level and is not “lazy” or “uncaring” because of it. Ahe may very well seem unmotivated to those who have a higher activity level but seldom are the expectations modified to reflect this difference. The same is true for different intellectual levels and constitutional sensitivities which are different from the parent.

Those children who are brighter, of higher activity and who are more sensitive than either parent have a very different problem in gaining love and acceptance and not receiving criticism and rejection. They too feel like children from the “wrong parent” alienated from the family because of their differences. Their early life leads to feelings of being a misfit. It is not until later in life that they can come to understand the fact of genetic differences and how these have affected them.

Single parent families lead to their own set of comploications in attempting a general theory of development. The single parent is usually the mother and her role and expectations in the child’s behavior has the greatest effect on both male and female children. Greater sensitivity in male children than in families with both parents often occurs. Female children often have a great deal of difficulty knowing how to relate to males and many times they expect males to be more like their female parent role model only to find out later that they are very different.

Because of the genetic differences in children and the fact that modeling different drivers varies from parent to parent, the specific application of a comprehensive theory of development becomes practically impossible. However, the knowledge of these two factors (1) genetic givens and (2) the presence of these five drivers in all parental modeling gives an individual a basis for understanding his or her make-up. Also important knowing that there is a generational effect which is passed down from parent to child to their children adds to ones awareness in child raising. Often we are so caught up in what our parent did that we overlook what we are doing to our own children.

These drivers are so deeply ingrained that I have found no one able to obliterate one even if they wanted to. However, we can understand the effects of them and modify our life style accordingly. A balance among the five drivers is good for a successful life. Excesses in any one of them leads to disharmony and stress.

Indeed, I define stress as taking on too much of anything (overfilling your plate) and then trying to be “too perfect, just trying too hard, being too emotionless or too strong, or trying too hard to please others. or to hurry up when there is not enough time to finish everything. If you have been raised with excesses of these drivers and there is any increase in load such as during the holidays, taking on a new job, or entering into a new relationship then stress increases and becomes unmanageable with the slightest increase in load.

At some point you crash from believing that you still have to do all of these with intensity. At this point psychotherapy can be extremely helpful in creating a greater workable balance, but remember, you can only modify the drivers and not eliminate them. They can be your demise but they also are your strength in fulfilling your lifelong purpose.