It's no secret that how a child is parented can have a huge impact on their personality, behavior, and what kind of person they grow up to be. It's the whole nature vs nurture debate. Now, no one is saying that 100% of a person's behavior and morality is the result of how they were raised.
But clearly, parenting is a major part of the equation. Regardless of what your kids learn out in the world or what influences they're exposed to, your parenting has more of an effect on their behavior than anything else. A new study highlights the importance of parenting and how parental behaviors can shape a child.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, links aggressive behavior in children to parents' harsh behavior and treatment of them at home. Researchers examined pairs of monozygotic twins between the ages of 6 and 11, as well as their parents. Parents were asked to complete a 50-item questionnaire which asked them things like how often they lost their temper with each of the twins, and if the children know they are loved.
Researchers then assessed the children's behavior. To gather data, parents were asked to report on 35 different traits that are associated with aggression and what researchers call callous-unemotional traits. These included lack of empathy and moral compass.
The data showed something very interesting. The twin who was treated more harshly and was given less emotional warmth exhibited more of the callous-unemotional traits. What makes the results of the study so interesting is that researchers were dealing with pairs of twins who share the same genetic makeup. It really proves that it's not just genes that are responsible for the development of these callous-unemotional traits in kids. When two kids with the same genetic makeup were treated differently, they each developed different behavioral and emotional traits.
When it comes to kids developing empathy and a strong moral compass, the examples set by their parents is so incredibly important. Certainly, there is a genetic aspect to the development of callous-unemotional traits. But the environment, and how kids are parented, plays a big role, too.