Nature vs. Nurture

How does parenting affect a child’s behavior?

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: about me, behaviour, cultural, Grade 1 & 2, Nature vs. Nurture, parents, personal, teaching and learning |

I am now at the age where my friends are having kids, and my grade one student’s parents are getting closer to my age. My husband and I don’t have kids, so I admit lots of the parenting questions I will bring up in this post are all what I have seen, not experienced. But as I come in contact with more parents than I ever have in my life, I start to wonder some things…
(Warning: I have a feeling this post is going to turn into a nature vs. Nurture debate, but let’s see where it goes!)

The first thing I wonder is how much parent’s behavior towards their child affects the child’s behavior in school. When there is a child in school who just can’t seem to follow directions, I wonder where this behavior comes from. I have to admit, I don’t understand all the complexities of autism, ADHD, FAS, ODD, or other disorders that might cause defiance or lack of organization, so I will stick to the kids that have no visible or diagnosed disorder. Why does it seem impossible for some of these kids to listen and follow directions? Do they feel like these rules don’t apply to them? Do parents unintentionally teach these children to disobey by doing things for them, giving in to their every need, or allowing them to rule the roost at home? Yes, there might be developmental areas where the child is not as developed as other children in his or her grade, but then how do you explain the kids much younger who are able to follow directions and listen to instructions? Are these skills developmental or learned?

Anstruther Wedding 1950's - Arncroach School

Looking back on schools 50-100 years ago, we can clearly see that expectations were different and discipline was different. Were children able to follow directions and instructions better back then? I run a pretty tight ship in terms of classroom expectations and usually my routines and procedures work for most students. Why don’t they work for those few children? If I compared the kid’s parents who follow directions to the kid’s parents who don’t/can’t, would I see a huge difference in how they run their household?
Kids Cooking Squad
My second wonder is how parent’s behavior towards their child affects behavior in newborns. We have close friends who have a 2 month old, and I honestly feel sorry for them sometimes! Our poor friends try their very hardest to get their daughter to stop crying, but it seems like nothing works sometimes! My friend has read all the books with different opinions about just letting her cry it out, or trying to soothe the baby, but she still ends up asking, “What is wrong? Why won’t you stop crying?” I wonder how the parent’s behavior changes the babies. If parents run to their baby every time they cry, do they cry more often? If parents bounce and rock their babies, does it change the baby’s response and daily behavior? Seeing our friends parent sure makes me think about what I will do when I am a parent! Obviously it’s not as black and white as it seems. Will I be able to stick to one method, Baby Wise for example, or will I end up trying everything and anything?

If I’m completely honest with you, I err on the side of nurture.  I tend to think that parenting has a lot to do with how you behave in school or life.  I look at how I was brought up, and I see a direct correlation between my behaviour and my parent’s behaviour.  I think of what was tolerated in my home, and what wasn’t.  I look at the routines and procedures of our household and how they parallel routines and procedures at school. I like to think I was well behaved because I was raised to be!

This is me as a child. I am clearly well behaved- just look at me!

But honestly… I think it also just gives me an excuse and person to blame when I can’t seem to get some of my students to listen to my directions! Can’t be the teacher’s fault, must be the parents! LOL

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