There has been too many discussions on our childhood memories, and how they really affect us. They can help shape how we think, react to people, eat, celebr ate holidays, and many decisions we make in our day to day adult lives. We usually don’t even recognize these subconscious triggers but they are there and there is no disputing that they are a big part of us.
How our Earliest Childhood Memories Form:
Scientists have been attempting to figure out for years why some early childhood memories stick and others do not. It seems that children ages three and under have memories up until this age, but as they get older the process of neurogenesis replaces infantile cells and the cells that are forming during the toddler years with older more matured cells, and throughout this process the cells in infancy and toddler times do not maintain the same plasticity for retaining information as the older cells do. This is simply a biological process.
However, those parents that ask their children, even much younger children, questions like tell me more about it, how did it make you feel, what did you like about it, what did you not like about it, any question that makes the child call upon those earlier memories more and in a more descriptive way notice that those children seem to hold onto those memories for a little while longer. This causes the recall portion of the brain to work a little harder and at least for a little while overpowers the biological process.
In several different studies children have been brought in at a very young age, and asked about a specific event that would be memorable, they were asked these types of descriptive questions, and then brought back at an interval of every year or two and asked about the particular event. It has been noted that up until the age of 5 or 6 that they will remember those events. In some cases when the children did recall the events, the memorable points of the event were remembered but the memories were foggy. By the age of 9 or 10 they had no recall of the event at all. They may remember a particular feeling associated with the event but not the event itself.
How our Favorite Childhood Memories Affect Us:
When we talk about favorite childhood memories they are usually associated with certain smells, tastes, feelings, maybe a family Christmas with the smell of the Christmas tree and the taste of the home baked sugar cookies, and the joy we felt as everyone gathered around the tree in the lights and opened presents, and dumped their stockings. These are usually the senses and such involved in the making of our favorite memories. It is usually a combination of all of these things.
It is said that the sense of smell is the one most linked to memories. This explains how we associate the smell of burning leaves, and the crisp air remind us of the fall and Halloween, which what child does not have a fond memory of some long ago Halloween. This in effect triggers the memory of the taste of peanut butter kisses, apple cider, or the fell of our costumes, the sounds of all the kids walking around and calling out trick or treat, and laughing. The same is said for the smell of a cooking turkey, or pumpkin pie baking, and the memories of Thanksgiving that are linked and triggered by these senses.
Maybe it’s the smell of a particular bubble bath or shampoo and the feel of our favorite stuffed animal tucked in next to us in our beds as we close our eyes and say our prayers as children. This memory would give us a feeling of safety, security, and love. On the other end of the spectrum we may remember the smell of a particular cough syrup, or of the hospital when we had to go in and stay when we had our tonsils taken out. These can trigger less than pleasant memories in us, and the feelings of fear, sickness, loneliness, etc.
How Do Our Childhood Memories Shape Our Adult Lives?
It is true that our childhood shapes our adulthood; or rather our memories of our childhood shape our adulthood. If we had a particularly bad childhood as in the case of abuse, or being bullied we will be less likely to trust other people implicitly. We will have problems in our interpersonal relationships, and chances are we will not relate to certain types of people very well. Such as in the case of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, if our main victimizer is male then we will not deal well with male figures. If our main victimizer is female then we will not deal well with females.
We will raise our families with the same traditions we were raised with in most cases, we will tell our stories over and over again to our children about how our memories made us feel, and we will relate our memories to our children’s memories in hopes of having a connection with them. We will take the things we remembered from our childhood and place those things into their childhoods. Stuffed animals, chicken soup, hot cocoa in front of a lit Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.
For those of us who do not have very many pleasant memories of childhood we will do our best to protect our children from the things and types of people that hurt us. We will not associate with certain types of people directly linked to our unpleasant memories. We will avoid places like funeral homes, and cemeteries if we have an unpleasant memory linked to those places. Even certain smells, certain colognes, or liquor, or anything that may have a traumatic event connected to them. This is how we perceive and react to the world through our memories and our senses. Each memory or sense has its own life at least in our minds and this can be the difference in us feeling good or feeling bad about those events, and how we choose to cling to certain memories versus other memories.
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