Think about this for a minute: What were the experiences you had growing up?
Most of us don’t remember our first to four years of life, but lots of research suggest that what we experienced as children influence us well into adulthood.
From how our parents raised us to the relationships we had, what we were taught, and more, these little aspects can have a huge impact on our personalities for the rest of our lives.
And for some, their childhood experiences were bizarre, to say the least.
Here are some of the weird ways your childhood shapes your personality and behavior as an adult.
Let’s dive in!
1) Your childhood fears and traumas can influence your adult personality
As a child, I was afraid of spiders, clowns, and dogs. I was bitten by a dog when I was young and ever since, I have been cautious whenever I’m around them.
What was it for you? Maybe you were afraid of the dark, dolls, thunderstorms, ghosts, or strangers.
Whatever it is, these fears can stick around well into adulthood. These may develop as a phobia and get in the way of how you live your life.
Or, they may build your resilience and prepare you to be an emotionally strong adult in your later years.
Unresolved childhood trauma, however, can have adverse effects on a person.
This trauma can take many forms — physical and sexual abuse, loss of a loved one, neglect, intense bullying, witnessing a natural disaster, a severe illness, etc.
Children who go through trauma may be lonelier, more anxious, less trusting, and more aggressive later in life.
2) Growing up with pets can help you become more empathetic as an adult
Many studies have shown that having a pet can help people live happier, healthier lives.
It turns out, pets can have a positive impact on a child’s overall development and well-being — particularly in their self-esteem and social skills.
And if you grew up understanding the benefits and duties of pet ownership, you likely are:
- Empathetic. Children with pets grow up to be more caring and empathetic adults. They understand that pets have thoughts and feelings that are different from theirs.
- Compassionate. As children take care of their pet’s basic needs, they learn to be kind to others.
- Responsible. Simple tasks like filling up a pet’s bowl with food or water teach children the value of responsibility.
- Active. Children who grew up with pets are healthier, fitter, and more likely to be active.
3) Your relationship with nature as a child can affect your attitudes and mental well-being
Research suggests that your earliest memories of nature’s beauty and your contact with specific natural environments may set you up for positive personalities in adulthood.
The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits. These include:
- Being more open-minded, curious, and creative as an adult
- Greater connection to and engagement with natural environments as an adult
- Caring more for the environment as an adult
- Instilling a sense of peace and being at one with nature
- Being humble enough to realize that you can engage with aspects of the world beyond the self
4) Being an only child or having siblings can determine how you value adult relationships
Contrary to popular belief, being an only child doesn’t make you lonely, selfish, spoilt, narcissistic, or antisocial.
Decades of research have debunked the negative stereotypes surrounding single children.
And many studies show that while they may not get sibling socialization, they are naturally equipped to socialize. They also grow up to be mature, motivated, independent, and confident.
If you grew up with siblings, your relationships with them matter a lot for your personal growth and well-being and can define your personality in many interesting ways — for better or worse.
Children who grew up with affectionate sibling relationships tend to be empathetic, caring, and generous, and are likely to cope better in stressful situations.
But siblings who had hostile relationships at a young age may struggle with trust and communication and have higher risks of suffering anxiety and antisocial behavior.
5) Parenting styles heavily influence the type of person we eventually grow into
The quality of your relationship with your parents during childhood affects you more than you probably realize.
Studies have shown that people who grew up in supportive and caring home environments — with parents who gave them the time and love they needed — tended to develop a sense of belongingness, self-worth, and trust.
Research also suggests that children who have emotionally supportive parents are more likely to get along with their friends and feel satisfied in their commitments and romantic relationships.
On the other hand, children who grew up with strict or overprotective parents may become more rebellious as adults.
6) Frequent moves during childhood can change who you are as an adult
Moving to a new neighborhood, town, or country can be very stressful, but a study finds that frequent moves in childhood can have harmful long-term effects that follow them into adulthood.
The findings show that the more times people moved as children, the more likely they were to report lower “well-being” and “life satisfaction” as adults.
Those who moved frequently as children also had fewer quality social relationships as adults.
Frequent relocations were also much harder for introverts, who reported having a very difficult time making friends as adults.
7) Exposure to diversity can shape your adult personality for the better
Growing up in a bilingual or multilingual household comes with a wide array of cognitive benefits — from flexibility to memory, planning, decision-making, and problem-solving.
But many studies also suggest that exposure to different languages, customs, and cultures as a child can enhance positive personality traits later on in life.
For example, individuals exposed to diverse cultures tend to be more open to new experiences, perspectives, and learning.
They also become more adaptable and better at communicating with people from all walks of life.
There are multitudes of early childhood experiences that may shape us to a certain extent.
And while we can’t change the past, that doesn’t mean we can’t recover from our worst childhood experiences.
The important thing to remember is that our personalities change throughout our lives. And that we have the power to take a stand on what and who we are.
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