Why the first seven years of life are important

Sigmund Freud has mentioned in his writings that the first five years of one’s life are very important, as that’s the time when the blueprint of one’s personality is fully written, in modern terms – the software of the mind is written, and this software is utilised for the rest of one’s life. It’s just a reply of that software during the rest of one’s life.  He saw very little scope for changing that software as a result of later life experiences.  He did not see later socio-cultural factors influencing one’s personality development. He said the negative elements in the personality cannot be eliminated, and most of it has to be contained inside the unconscious mind through the process of strong repression.

However, other psychotherapists have disagreed with him, in that, in their view, personality keeps developing until one acquires adulthood. There is some research evidence to support that notion.

According to the Indian philosophy, which is supported by modern research, the first seven years are crucial, as one acquires the ability to reflect on one’s experiences and change or control them, only after the age of seven, some say eleven. Which means that a child below seven years has acquired the ability to experience raw emotions but no way to control them properly. He has an experiencing-self but no observing-self which all adults have.

In a situation like this the parents become the observing self for the child in guiding them in manging their emotions. The parents should not expect the child to be able to control their emotions in a rational way until they have reached the age of seven.  Going by this analysis it seems logical that any disruption in the child’s parental care during the first seven years is likely to result in emotional dysregulation and child having difficulty managing their emotions later in life.

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