Child’s behavior

The issues with nature and nurture are important here because often when it comes to a child’s behavior, some people blame the parents, society, or even the child. Without conveying any direct blame, the pendulum has finally now settled down to say that it looks like it’s a bit of both. It’s like a succession of influences that interact to influence how a child develops (Richardson, 1994 pg. 232). However genes, according to Plomin, don’t completely affect a child’s intelligence, they only account for about half. Genetics account, on average, for half of the differences of most traits and the environment accounts for the rest.

Take this for an example, a child what Thomas and Chess defines as ‘a difficult child’ (Niolon, 1999), who had parents also with a difficult temperament, who lives in a deprived and, or unsupportive environment. Has through people’s perceptions, a very small chance of succeeding. Or at least it would be more difficult than an ‘difficult’ child (Niolon, 1999) who has parents with a ‘easy’ temperament where they live in a thriving and supportive environment. This is not to say the child won’t have their problems but because they live in a supportive environment, they would have a better chance of good progression. By saying ‘difficult child’ should not to be interpreted has being judgmental but to demonstrate some temperamental problems that may be innate to the individual.

We know life in general is never so simplistic, because very often you see a child living in what society would call a deprived (i.e. Socially, economically and emotional) environment who succeeds. You also see the opposite where there is a child in a so-called thriving environment where they do not succeed. Here again, things are not as simple as that as many researchers put it also down to parent-child relationships

Relationships and Child Temperament The challenge here would be where the parents and/or the environment are not compatible to the child’s temperament. The parent might try to change the temperament and/or have a problematical relationship with the child. Take for example the ‘rhythmicity’ of the child and parent, which are totally opposite. The parent rhythmically is that they sleep like regularly and would not function very well with less than eight hours sleep. The child may still be waking at night, early mornings, rarely takes a nap during the day etc. The parents might deem the child has being difficult, but realistically the child is not difficult but different to their parents. if both the parent and the child rhythmicity were identical this would not pose too much of a problem.

Behavioral problems is often linked with temperament which may had its origins in this ‘hypothetical’ transactional model based on one by Sameroff (1991). Even though, through natural development the temperament may change, the parents attitude towards the child during those difficult times, may have a lasting effect on the child’s development. Problems can also arise with a ‘slow to warm up’ child who is probably not as responsive to people with smiling, friendly, playful behaviour, they can be ‘invisible’ to people Bates in his research also cited that the mother-relationship does affect the temperament of the child and that the strength of the mother-child relationship affects the development of the child.

The problem with temperament is that if there is a ‘poor fit’ between the child and their caregiver, as described by William Carey (2001) it can cause discord not only with the parent but with teachers, relatives and who ever comes into close contact with the child. The obvious consequences for the child can have low self-esteem, self-worth even exhibit aggressive behaviour.

In many cases it takes just changing what the ‘idealized’ assumptions what the child should be like and not trying too hard to get the child be something they are not (Carey, 2001). Adults need to create child-rearing environments, according to Hirschy (2001) that recognize each child’s temperament while encouraging more adaptive functioning. For instance certain qualities that may make a child seem difficult may be an advantage to a child if seen in a positive frame. Using some references from Preventative ounce and temperamental types from Thomas & Chess, notice the following examples.

– An active child may benefit from a career in Sports or Leisure where they can channel their energies – The cautious child that holds back and is reluctant with people may be less likely to compromise under peer pressure. – They high rhythmicity child that has irregular eating and sleeping patterns may be better suited to working in different shifts/irregular hours. – An intense child that cries a lot and seeks a lot of attention, may be given more attention in times of crisis and this could assist with their survival in a famine according to Devries

Temperament & Culture The issue of culture comes well here as some cultures, as with research cited by Learne(1993) where Kokwet mothers in Kenya, mum’s would feed their child on demand and would not find it problematical if the child was still waking up in the night at one years old. If this happened in the western culture, parents may modify this behaviour (ie. Through tactics like Controlled crying) for the child for the ‘Goodness Fit’.

The issue here is how the overall lives of the mothers affect their decisions on the child rearing. For the Kokwet mothers she would have a large network of older mums older children and siblings that would be constantly on hand to assist her whereas with Western mothers, most of the time she is isolated. According to Oates (1994) is that the ‘impact of temperament on development has to be analysed as an interaction between the child’s characteristics and features of the environment including parenting. The ‘Goodness Fit’


A child’s temperament is very important for temperament because: – Their temperament is their biological foundation but they are not a slave to it. – As a child matures into adulthood, the effects of their temperament are influenced by their social, emotional experiences. – Behavioral problems often stem from a difficult temperament. – The way how people (especially parents) respond to a child’s temperament, has an effect on them to the extent that it can shape their behaviour. Parents have the most influence where they can curtail any negative outcomes.


Arcus, Doreen (1998) ‘Temperament’ Gale Encyclopedia of childhood & Adolescence, Gale Research – Bates, J.E. (1989a), cited in Jim Stevenson & John Oates Open University, (1994) Carey, William (2001) ‘Is This a Behaviour Problem or Normal Temperament’ Gale Encyclopedia of childhood & Adolescence, Gale Research –

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