As a parent, you want your children to grow up to be good, decent people who can contribute to society.
However, you frequently overlook one of the most important factors influencing your children’s development – their DNA.
Genetic differences account for around half of all behavioural differences between children, including extroversion, impulsivity and anxiety, with environmental variables accounting for the remaining half, according to a study conducted by Psychology Today.
Knowing how your children’s genes affect their conduct can help you raise them to be the best versions of themselves.
While it is clear that parents cannot change their children’s DNA, research suggests that they can learn to understand how their children’s genes may cause them to behave in particular ways and adjust their parenting style accordingly.
The Institute for Family Studies lists four important factors parents should be aware of regarding how their children's genes affect their behaviour:
1. Genetics affect how children’s developing brains are wired
Not only does DNA determine whether a person has brown or blond hair or blue or brown eyes, but it also affects how our children's brains develop, which influences many of their innate characteristics.
Some kids are therefore more sociable than others, while some youngsters take longer to warm up to new people and circumstances.
Some children are more adaptable, while others are more prone to anxiety, anger and dread. Some children are more self-restrained than others, and vice versa. The variances in their DNA are where it all begins.
Think about your child's characteristics that remain constant over time and in various contexts to identify which behaviour best represent their innate personality.
For instance, many kids get cranky when they're hungry or tired, but if your child frequently appears to get irritable over obviously insignificant things at home, school or when you're running errands and has been this way since they were young, it may be a sign of higher emotionality.
2. Genes affect how children react to their surroundings
One child may cry at a parent's stern gaze, yet another may not even notice it. One child may squeal with joy when they see a dog on the street, while another may tremble behind their parent’s knee.
Children with various dispositions have diverse world views. Depending on the child’s genetic make-up, some surroundings can be more or less stressful or joyful.
3. Genes have an impact on the environments children encounter
When our children are young, their daily activities are mostly in the hands of adults, but their responses to various situations have an impact on whether we repeat activities.
If you take your kid to a museum and they enjoy looking at the artwork and you have a good time together, you'll probably take them to other museums in the future.
However, if your child behaves badly at the museum and you have to spend most of the afternoon correcting them and making excuses to the curators, you may be less inclined to take advantage of future family outings to museums.
Children indirectly influence the experiences that the adults in their lives seek out by how they respond to particular surroundings.
4. Genetics affect a child's ability to interact with others
In comparison to a newborn who cries nonstop, a cheerful infant is more likely to be cuddled and smiled at.
The likelihood of teachers and other adults paying attention to a friendly child increases.
Low-self-control children could be more likely to cause their parents’ annoyance or punishment. Our children’s temperaments are influenced by their genes, which also affect how other people react to them.
As a result, each child’s genes have an impact on how they are exposed to the world which, in turn, has an effect on how the child develops.
Families commonly experience conflict as a result of mismatches between the dispositions of the children and their settings.
Children, for instance, start showing signs of extroversion at a young age. Similar to adults, an introvert may find it difficult to adjust to a new environment and a large number of unknown people.
They respond with tears or temper tantrums because their developing brains are unable to articulate (or even recognise) why they are angry.
Parents can put practices in place to reduce daily stressors by understanding their children’s temperaments and the demands of children with various dispositions. This understanding helps parents comprehend the motivation behind their children's behaviour.