The Modern Mom
January 22, 2012
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People have been debating about what contributes to a child’s behavior for years, but parenting and environment are usually the two factors that are the most argued. Charles Darwin and Francis Galton were some of the first people to publish their opinions on the matter, but many people since have thrown in their opinions, too.

The Nature vs. Nurture Argument

Some people argue a child’s behavior is influenced by nature, while others argue nurture is the most responsible factor. The following definitions help to better explain the nature versus nurture argument:

Image “Learned or Inherited” by jbrownell via Flickr


There are two sides to the “nature” argument. One is that children living in poor circumstances will exhibit different behaviors than those living in rich circumstances. For example, imagine how different the lives of children living in Boston apartments would be from those living in Los Angeles estates, or children who have no home at all.

The nature argument also claims that behaviors are biological, meaning children from different parents inherit qualities that make them act differently. For instance, a child could possible inherit personality traits from their parents, such as being shy or hyperactive. It is hard to prove this in a lab, though, because others claim these tendencies were learned traits by the children mirroring their parent’s behavior.


John Locke is famous for claiming that people develop most of their behaviors from “nurture.” For example, if a child throws a tantrum and his parent gives in, the child has learned that tantrums are effective. However, if the parent ignores the tantrum, the child learns that tantrums are not effective, and therefore, alters his behavior. Tantrums are universal, and the way a parent reacts is a strong argument toward the “nurture” argument. Studies have also shown than children who are raised in a nurturing way are less likely to have behavioral issues or suicidal tendencies.

Most people usually decide to believe that a child’s behavior is based on a combination of “nature” and “nurture” factors. While there is definitely research that proves the case of both sides of the argument, there are probably too many contributing factors to make a sound decision on one way over the other Or find out more about foster parenting here.

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