Parents have a very delicate job when it comes to raising children, and if you listen to the advice of psychologists and parenting books then you will be well aware of just how many different ways there are for things to go wrong. One of the most common here is that a child develops insecurities, which can then lead to significant problems in later life. In fact, many of us will probably have had some kind of insecurity in our youth that still affects us, and this might still be causing us problems or affecting our behaviour.
Of course there are countless different factors that forge our personalities and our mental health, both environmental and genetic, so there are countless different ways that someone might cope with their childhood insecurities or be affected by them. Some people may cope very well and manage to address and overcome the problem without it causing any lasting damage.
Your relationships are one of the things that can be most affected by your childhood insecurities. On the one hand of course, an insecurity can simply alter a way a child interacts with others, and they might be jealous, possessive and paranoid as a result of their belief that they aren’t ‘good enough’ to warrant good treatment. This can simply follow through into adulthood and can create difficulties when trying to form romantic attachments as you question your partner’s loyalty or need to find ways to ‘prove’ your worth by succumbing to the affections of others.
If you are very insecure about an aspect of your personality in childhood meanwhile this can also affect your enjoyment of spending time in a social setting. If you are insecure when socializing then you might simply avoid socialising. This then could lead you to miss out on the opportunity to learn and develop the skills that come from spending time with others and cause you to be more isolated in later life. This could perceivably also lead to other personality disorders such as narcissism as the child believes themselves to be the only person they can rely on.
A lack of attachment can lead to a range of problems in later life, as evidenced by Bandura’s attachment studies that found children with ‘insecure attachments’ with their primary care givers, who were found in longitudinal studies to be far more likely to exhibit delinquent behaviour in later life. Due to the inability to form strong attachments and learn from their role models presumably this causes them to have difficulties developing emotionally (though of course there are many confounding variables here).
Confidence and Achievement
Meanwhile someone with insecurities might well find that these spread to other areas of their life resulting in general lack of confidence. This may then result in underachievement as they don’t have the faith in themselves necessary to meet the right partners or fulfil their potential in their career.
At the same time though this can actually have the opposite effect as the person attempts to compensate for their one-time insecurities by consciously deciding to act the opposite way, or just trying to ‘make up for lost time’. Thus they might become very sociable and outgoing, or become an overachiever as a way to try and overcome their perceived shortcomings. In some cases this might lead them to be highly successful, but in others it can lead to highly self-destructive behavior – such as plastic surgery or risk taking. It can also lead to the ‘short man’ syndrome that many of us will have witnessed.
There’s a chance that someone who has suffered insecurities in their lives might well become sensitive to the insecurities of others and thus become more understanding and sympathetic. However the opposite can also occur if the individual fixates on their short comings and attempts to ‘purge’ them. Reaction formation is an ego defence mechanism described by Freud in which we attempt to prove that we aren’t something by acting the complete opposite way to the extreme.
In short, childhood insecurities can range greatly in their effects, but of course it’s far preferable to give a child a real feeling of security and confidence that they can build on to live a calmer and happier adult life – and the most important way to do that is to show them unconditional love. If you are struggling with these issues yourself meanwhile, then you might want to discuss them with someone close to you, and to consider talking them through with a therapist.