(3-6 YEARS OLD)
In this phase in life, we are discovering and solidifying WHO WE ARE. To know who we are is to have an identity, which involves knowing our sex (M/F), sexuality, beliefs about ourselves, and our fantasies. This is when we ask, “Why?” We are testing reality in order to separate it from fantasy; therefore, we “test our boundaries” at this age in order to discover our power. To test is to find out how much power we have.
In order to develop a balanced sense of identity at this age, we must have caretakers who model a healthy intimate relationship, including healthy sexuality. Our caretakers must also model good communication skills, such as clarifying, listening, asking for what they want, and conflict resolution. It is also crucial that sons and daughters bond with their fathers during this time. Bonding must include both physical touch and emotional sharing.
During this stage, we begin modeling our parents or other heroes during make-believe (fantasy), in order to further envision and develop our sense of purpose. If we’ve kept our healthy sense of authenticity up to this point, we can say: “I can trust the world, I can trust myself, and I am special and unique. I can start envisioning my future, even if I don’t have to know what it is yet.” THIS IS A CRUCIAL STAGE FOR MANIFESTATION surrounding career and worth (regarding the subconscious modeling we received and imprinted). Power comes out of having identity – the power to initiate and make choices. A healthy child with an identity at this age thinks: “I can play like my heroes, and I can dream about being an adult and creating my own life.”
When preschoolers bury their authentic selves, as adults, they cannot give themselves to their partners because they don’t have a “self” to give. Therefore, a healthy authentic child-self at this phase, needs to reflect a need to be independent, to be curious, to test individuality, and to ask questions, while also seeing healthy modeling of sexuality and a healthy modeling of career from caretakers.
If the authentic self is buried and unhealthily parented, it is impossible for the child to develop a healthy conscience or a healthy sense of guilt. The lack of individuality prohibits the child from feeling entitled to a life of his/her own, so the child develops toxic guilt and shame. It’s a way of having power in a powerless situation. The guilt and shame tell you that you are responsible for other people’s feelings and behavior.
Do you have severe identity problems? (ex. Who are you? Does an answer come easily?)
When you have sex, even in a healthy context, do you feel guilty?
Do you have trouble identifying what you are feeling at any given moment?
Do you have communication problems with the people you are close to (spouse, children, boss, friends)?
Do you try and control your feelings most of the time?
Do you try to control the feelings of those around you?
Do you have trouble expressing your feelings?
Do you believe that you are responsible for other people’s behavior or feelings?
Do you act on guesses and unchecked assumptions, treating them as actual information?
Do you strive for success, so your parents can feel good about themselves?
What did your magnetic self look like?
What came up around discovering your sex, sex for the first time?
Around vulnerability, communication, intimacy, and sexuality?
Bonding with your magnetic parents?
What your preschool self needed more of?