Factors that influence personality development in childhood typically include genetics, family environment, and social environment. Psychologists studying childhood personality development believe that some inherent aspects of someone's personality may not be related to environmental or genetic factors. People from the same family, raised in the same environment and culture, can often develop vastly different personalities. Experts do not fully understand why this should be so. While environmental and genetic factors may not be the only ones related to personality development in childhood, they are, however, generally acknowledged as important.
The culture in which a child is raised can be one of the environmental factors contributing to the development of personality. Other factors in childhood personality development can include the quality of care a child receives from parents. While some aspects of a child's personality may be inherent from birth, the feedback a child receives from parents, caregivers, and siblings can contribute to the formation of his personality. Birth order may also contribute to personality development in childhood. Older siblings may be more studious and responsible, while younger siblings may be more carefree and boisterous.
Many theories about the personality development in childhood postulate that social and gender conditioning can influence a child's personality. Girls and boys are generally treated differently by their parents and others, depending on the larger society's notions about appropriate gender roles. Children will generally form conclusions about the world and their place in it based on things they observe and experiences they have, and these conclusions can ultimately influence the child's character. Parents may typically influence the development of personality in childhood by the way they treat the child. The quality and nature of parental discipline and personal interaction is believed to have a strong effect on childhood personality development.
Very young children will often seek to imitate their parents or other caregivers. They will typically take their caregivers' beliefs and moral values for their own. Parental personality traits can therefore be a strong factor in the development of a child's personality.
Personality is typically defined as a collection of character traits that, combined, serve to make one a unique individual. Personality development in childhood typically begins at around two years of age, when the child begins to develop self-awareness. Most experts believe that a child's basic personality is fully formed by the age of six.