Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nature versus Nurture

Because a child does not grow up in a vacuum, his personality and ability to cope with the world ultimately embrace may more qualities than those he is born with. As he grows, his character develops and changes as a result of the people he lives with, the environment that surrounds him and the experiences he accumulates along the way. The largest personal influence will be that of his parents, whose habits and attitudes he will inevitably emulate. If the child has siblings, they also play a role in shaping his personality. And later on- around the age of six – peer influence and schooling may contribute to the pattern. But in early childhood, the predominant influences are in the home.

The “nature versus nurture’ debate – over the issue of how much of a child personality is dictated by nature and how much is absorbed from his environment- has been carried on for centuries and still seems far from settled. It is clear, however, that both factors are involved in most aspects of development. Researchers find it impossible to tell whether certain traits- such as tendency toward aggression- are predominantly inbred or acquired. Other traits seem obviously determined by one influence more than the other.  A tendency to be either calm or easily excitable, for example, seems to be chiefly hereditary, while a quality such as generosity appears to be most strongly influenced by the child’s environment. In any event it is a mistake to assume that the temperament an infant exhibits in his first months is conservative adult. However, given a certain pattern of interaction over the years with his parents and siblings, Teachers and playmates, he could also turn out to be an outgoing and inquisitive grownup. In short, there is no way to predict with any certainty how your child’s personality will turn out: Too many variables affect it. The important thing to keep in mind is that you, as parents, are chief among those variables.