Studies have shown that early childhood years of life can have the most important impact on the rest of an individual life-span. There are things that you can do to make life purposeful even in such an early stage of life. Research suggests that our paths to finding purpose can be shaped by early childhood experiences.
These early years of childhood are the most crucial years in your children’s lives. Take them serious, and listen to their concerns. Children’s emotional concerning can lead to tremendous problems later in their lives.
Here are three of the childhood experiences that can lead a child into a more purposeful life:
Some research suggests that adverse experiences early in life can hinder our development of purpose, even decades later.
Psychologist Patrick Hill and his colleagues studied over 3,800 primarily white adults ages 20 to 75. They reported on any early childhood adversity they had experienced—including experiences of emotional abuse, physical abuse, socioeconomic disadvantage, family structure disadvantage (parents divorcing or dying), and health disadvantage (poor early physical or emotional health). This information leads to a vast statistic for analyzing the impacts of early childhood in later stages of life.
Hill and his colleagues found that people who recalled enormous adversity in childhood—in particular, more considerable health disadvantage—had a decreased sense of purpose.
“Individuals who experience early adversity are not ‘doomed’ to a lower sense of purpose later in life,” the researchers write. “Instead, early adversity may be better viewed as a potential risk factor.”
Even conflict in relationships between parents and children could affect their sense of purpose as they grow older.
Another study by Hill involved over a thousand children aged between six and twelve and their parents. The researchers followed the families until the children reached their twenties. They were primarily white, working-class families who lived in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
When they were in elementary school, the children—as well as their mothers and fathers—completed questionnaires about how much conflict, anger, and fun they had in their parent-child relationship. As early adults, the children also completed questionnaires to measure their purpose, life satisfaction, and stress.
The results? Children who had a more early conflict with their mothers—based on their own opinions, not their parents’—had a decreased sense of purpose in early adulthood regardless of how stressed and satisfied with the life they were.
“Frequent conflict saps the child’s energy and enthusiasm, and in turn, likelihood to live an active, engaged lifestyle, which has been suggested as a primary pathway by which individuals find what makes their lives purposeful,” explain Hill and his colleagues.
We realized these years of early childhood are the years that will never be repeated ever. Parents have the most impact on their children’s lives during these years. So, make sure you listen to your children and ensure they are not experiencing any sort of trouble in their lives. Just as we do at Sunway.