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It is common to find parents who have tried to raise their children to perfection or to acquire values similar to their own but these children end up with strange values and personalities. The question many people have regards the influence the parents have over their children’s personality, character and intelligence. The most probable answer depends with the perspective the researcher takes but in most cases the influence falls on the pre or postnatal care events as opposed to nature thus nurture overrides nature.
Diverse studies and research have shown that genetics play an important role over influencing behaviours and personalities in children. There is also a wide agreement regarding the influence by environmental components and activities. This paper addresses the influence of the environment such as family settings made of the biological or foster parent, peer influence and the social style of learning in comparison to natural traits such as genes or inherited persona.
Environmental factor influencing child behavior
Compared to the various ways of parenting, the human genes have very little effect over the personality of a child and this is why in the modern life, a person may turn out to be good in spite of appalling living conditions. Good parents may also have poor mannered offspring. People have strength to overcome obstacles and this is the main reason why some parents will produce excellent well mannered off spring while others produce the ill-fated individuals. The parenting aspects have great effect over the basic personality of a child.
As Miller (1997) explained regarding child development process, there are random components, which influences intelligence, behaviour and personality of a child. One important point that is well known is that parents pass genes to their children in a rather random manner and this is the reason why it is hard to find siblings having similar traits.
As much as research has established genes to be an influence to behaviours, researchers agree that the environmental conditions influence the behaviour as well as personality. The environmental influences include the biological or foster parents, peers as well as the social learning traits. (Miller, 1999)
According to Schmitz (2003) the issue of family setting or environment background is a key attribute to bringing up the child for instance, the family setting influences the child hyperactivity. There are some factors such as poverty levels, educational levels, the structure of the family and the parenting practices, which are the key determinants of a child’s behaviour and personality.
The relationship between the child’s behaviour and the family setup depends upon the parent who ought to be caring. When the environment is stimulating and the techniques used to raise children are consistent, then the probabilities of having a child with good behaviours are high. (Schmit, 2003) One need to weigh problems regarding personality against those of poor communications and relations as attributes of a weak family setting or bond.
The antisocial, aggressive, criminal or delinquent behaviours are attributable to the families facing financial strains, those with more children to cater for and those whose parents are not able to administer good disciplined behaviours consistently. Child abuses as well as neglect are some of the most popular investigated arguments as the root cause of antisocial and criminal behaviours especially when the child matures. (Holmes et al, 2001)
Considering the comparison between nature or genetic factors and the environmental factors over influence of child’s behaviour and personality, the age is an important issue worth consideration. There are consistent research findings that the heritability influences adult behaviour while the environmental factors mainly affect the behaviours of the children and adolescents.
(Rhee and Waldman, 2002) this is because the adult has the ability to logically reason and make decision based on the living standards which positively or negatively influences the personality traits. The child is limited to a certain environment because they do not have the ability to choose or change thus they abide to the existing environmental conditions.
According to the writings of Gernefski and Okma (1996), the antisocial or delinquent behaviours of adolescents in a peer group have direct links to problem behaviours especially the aggressive behaviours faced during childhood. The young children show aggressive behaviours. These tendencies grow towards their peer groups and when one fails to curb the act, they emerge to be the outcasts of the society.
The emergent of poor peer relationships are regrettable and traceable to allowing children to be with others of similar traits. These are similar tendencies or behaviours natured from childhood through adolescents to adulthood and eventually become the key contributors to bad societal problems or criminal acts. (Holmes et al, 2001)
The theory of social learning has influence over child’s growth and behaviour. The theory indicates that the child observes the aggressive behaviour of the parents or other siblings and adopts them. The child learns from imitation, therefore, they take the emulated behaviour as a normal behaviour. They perceive the behaviour as good since there is no harm to acting similar to the parent.
(Miles and Carey, 1997) In line with Miles and Carey’s writing (1997), if the levels of aggression by the parents are very high, reinforcement of the same traits might occur to the children.
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Comparison between nurture and nature
The environmental factors are however not the only influential attributes over the child’s behaviour and personality. They coordinate with the genetic factors or catalyze them. According to Eysenck (1996), a personality psychologist, the behaviour of an individual in influenced by three factors concern with psychotic measures, extravert and neurotics in a theory referred to as the “PEN model”.
Psychotic measures associates with the personal traits of impersonation, impulsiveness, and anti-social behaviours. In addition, the un-empathetic and cold or criminal behaviours reference the same psychotic traits. The extravert is associated with the social traits, activeness, liveliness, caring, dominance, assertiveness and ability to seek sensation.
Lastly, the neuroticism correlates to anxiousness, depression, moodiness, tension emotion and low self-esteem. People can utilize the tree factors in the quest for factors influencing behaviours especially in children.
They are factors that assist in picking out the bad behaviours from the good ones were by; one can be in a position to predict the probable behaviours of young children. Some of the factors face inheritance as opposed to environmentally influenced factors thus the probability of the interaction between nature and nature.
Traits in children correlate with low levels of brain arousal because of low interest, poor attention, poor observation techniques, and sleepiness. Low extravagance calls for better simulation from external environments factors because the brains lack the stimulants. In line with miles and Carey (1997), children are born with a nervous system that rarely responds to or is aroused by the external stimuli thus the need to adopt more environmental factors or proper stimuli for better arousal.
These factors include the high-risk activities but argumentatively not all individuals who have low levels of arousal need the high-risk activities. In line with Jensen (1998), the right mind and environment is what it takes to create a behaviour and personality that lacks antisocial and illegal behaviours. Thus the argument; the influence lies on both the environmental factors as well as inherited genes.
The child’s behaviours and personalities face moulding when there is lack of proper mechanisms or techniques to foster disciplinary techniques. They are influential in creating good social behaviours, parental aggression and rejection as well as the interactive relationship between the parents or other siblings.
Children raised in an antisocial or aggressive home setting are more susceptible to poor parental monitoring, inconsistent punishment administration, rejection, aggression as well as permissiveness.
This is an implication that children behaviours and personality traits mainly face the environmental conditions influences over the genetic factors or attributes. (Miles and Carey, 1997)
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Garnefski, N., & Okma, S. 1996. Addiction-risk and aggressive/criminal behavior in Adolescence: Influence of family, school, and peers. Journal of Adolescence, 19, 503-512.
Holmes, S. E., Slaughter, J. R., & Kashani, J. 2001. Risk factors in childhood that lead to the development of conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 31, 183-193.
Jensen, Arthur, 1998. The Science of Mental Ability. New York: Greenwood.
Miles, D. R., & Carey, G. 1997. Genetic and environmental architecture of human aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 207-217.
Miller, Edward M, 1999 Could Non-shared Environmental Variance Have Evolved to Assure Diversification Through Randomness? Evolution and Human Behavior, Vol. 18 No. 3, 195-221.
Miller, Edward M, 1999. Intelligence, Income, Inequality, Mankind Quarterly, Vol. 39, (spring) No.3 (forthcoming).
Rhee, S. H., & Waldman, I. D. 2002. Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior: A meta-analysis of twin and adoption studies. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 490-529.
Schmitz, M. F. 2003. Influences of race and family environment on child hyperactivity and antisocial behavior. Journal of Marriage & the Family, 65, 835-849.