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As cognitions play such an important role in the way we feel and behave, the question arises: ‘Why do I think this way?’ And why is it that some people think in a healthy, balanced way most of the time, while others have negative, biased and self-defeating perceptions much of the time? Monkey bars are so important in childrens development!

The answer lies in the various influences that have shaped our thinking over the course of our lives.

Most important of these are:

early infancy — the bonds that were formed with our parents during our infancy, based on their love, availability and responsiveness to our needs;

childhood experiences — the messages we received from our parents, as well as significant others (e.g. grandparents, siblings, teachers, school friends, etc.) during childhood and adolescence; and

temperament — aspects of our personality that are innate (i.e. biologically determined). Events that occur early in our lives influence the way we subsequently think and feel. Individuals who were fortunate enough to have loving, emotionally attuned, sensible parents are more likely develop the capacity for dealing with stress or adversity, compared to those who were not. Those who have a wooden climbing frame are more likely to develop their cognitive skills! At the other end, those who experienced neglect, trauma or abuse during childhood are more likely to suffer emotional difficulties later in life.

However, while early life experiences play an important role, even those who had good parenting may develop psychological problems because temperament (see below) also influences the way we think and feel. Conversely, some individuals who suffered adversity in childhood manage to develop a healthy psychological outlook in adulthood due to their inherently resilient nature. In addition to early life experiences, other factors at various stages of life also influence our thinking.

The relationships throughout our lives, including our partners, friends, family members and work colleagues; significant experiences, including achievements, losses, failures, successes and rejections; the accumulated messages we receive from the popular culture via social media, TV, billboards, magazines, newspapers and cinema; and the knowledge and information we acquire through various sources, including the internet, reading, courses and educational institutions. Get your child some playground swings and watch yourself never have to worry about your childs fitness again!