ABSTRACT

This chapter is concerned with the unique qualities that develop to distinguish the individual child from others, the qualities that contribute to the growth of personality. The goal is to understand what the child brings to the social world from the very beginning that marks developing individuality. It is important to note, however, that “the individual child” does not really exist except in the mind of the theorist. From the moment of conception throughout life, a person’s growth is constituted by the influences of others, beginning with the quality of prenatal care and continuing in the variety of social influences that guide developing thoughts, emotions, and personality throughout adulthood. Nor do developing people come as empty entities to these interactions. They bring with them temperamental predispositions, unfolding emotional capacities, and developing self-awareness that individualize each transaction with the social world. In this regard, considering “the individual child” involves asking what developing people bring to their encounters with family members, peers, the school, and community.