Personality is what makes a person unique, and soon after birth it is recognizable. There are several components in the personality of a child: temperament, environment, and character. Temperament is the set of genetically determined characteristics that determine the approach of the child to the world and how the child learns about the world. No genes specify personality traits, but some genes control the nervous system’s development, which in turn controls behavior.
A second personality component derives from adaptive patterns related to the particular environment of a child. Most psychologists agree that these two factors— temperament and environment — most influence a person’s personality development. Temperament is sometimes referred to as “nature,” with its dependence on genetic factors, while environmental factors are referred to as “nurture.”
While there is still controversy as to which factor ranks higher in affecting the development of personality, all experts agree that high-quality parenting plays a critical role in developing the personality of a child. By understanding how their child responds to certain situations, parents can anticipate issues that may be problematic for their child. They can prepare the child for the situation or they can completely avoid a potentially difficult situation in some cases. Parents who know how to adapt their parenting approach to their child’s particular temperament can best provide guidance and ensure that their child’s personality develops successfully.
Finally, the third component of personality is character—the set of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral patterns learned from experience that controls how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. A person’s character continues to evolve throughout life, although much depends on inborn traits and early experiences. Character is also dependent on a person’s moral development .