Ego, Confidence and Skill Vs. Coping Mechanisms

All "normal" humans have "ego". The ego protects the person and the "self", it protects itself, and the person protects their own ego. It's our shield, our boundaries, and it's directly connected to our "identity".
When it's healthy, it helps us protect ourselves, it helps us get around and function in the world, believe in our own abilities, feel and respond to signals and messages from our body, care for ourselves, build our sense of identity and self, and interact with other people.
When it's been weakened or damaged, and especially when the injury has not been cared for, it becomes swollen like any other wound, and much more sensitive.
Like a wound or a severe burn on the skin, it swells up, becomes painful to the touch, and opens us up to invasion from the outside world. We automatically protect a wound from touch or further damage, but if we don't treat it properly, it becomes infected and can make us very sick, or worse; and if it does heal without proper treatment, there is likely to be a lot of scar tissue, or a permanent disability such as with unset broken bones.

When the healthy egos of children are harassed, attacked, neglected, and improperly cared for by those around them, they tend to become self-protective, and don't learn the difference between healthy self-confidence and a swollen or scarred ego. They'll figure out ways to COPE and SURVIVE in the hostile environment they're living in instead of growing in a healthy way.

For example and illustration, a child who is abandoned in the woods with nothing must learn how to survive by trial and error, and may not make it without dealing with starvation, serious illness, injury, or attack from predators. The child has to figure out ways to survive everything they encounter all on their own, by trial and error, with no learned knowledge or skill about anything. How would the child know which berries to eat and which to avoid? How to find clean water? How to deal with illness? How to make clothes or shelter? How to stay warm? How to fight off predators, or hide from them? He or she wouldn't know that the tree bark right in front of them has aspirin in it to fight a fever or pain, or that one flower is edible and medicinal, but another is not, or how to make or use a bow and arrow, or how to start a fire or what to use, or how to make clothing, or what to use, or not to drink any water they find, or why not, or how to filter it, etc.. How would they figure each of these things out on their own? They wouldn't. They would figure some things out if they survived long enough, but much of it needs to be taught by someone else, who also learned from someone before them, and so on.

But another child abandoned with nothing, but who was given guidance and taught about the woods, how to find and prepare food, how to stay safe and warm, and how to deal with predators and attackers has a much, much better chance of survival, but not only survival; the child has a good chance of "mastering" his or her environment, and building a good life.

The first child's ego and self would be focused on the survival of the physical organism, coping and trying to figure out ways to survive, scared a lot of the time, worried the rest of the time, rarely feeling anything like peace, hope, contentment, or optimism for the future. The child's focus would be in survival mode more of the time than not, which means the child's entire person and health is under constant stress. The child is likely to develop hyper-defensiveness issues as well that stay with them even when the environment is safe. The child is likely to develop a fixed focus on the outside world, mostly limited to what seems like "danger" that needs to be avoided or attacked, and what is attainable and useable for their own survival. 

But the second abandoned child's ego and self would be focused on mastering survival skills that he or she already has, because he or she wouldn't have to be constantly trying to figure it out and living in fear and anxiety. The child would be USING skills and knowledge already learned, and building upon them, which help to build healthy confidence, self, and identity. It also means the child would be building THINGS, such as a shelter, cooking areas and utensils, weapons, clothing, and anything else he or she thinks of, and therefore creating a "home" and a "sanctuary".