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Genetic Predisposition and Nurture: Successful Future for a Child

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Have you ever wondered why parents say things like, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” “I don’t know where he gets his laziness from,” and “You act just like your mother”? They tend to avert the blame of a child’s behavior or personality on their parents or spouses. However, the reason children misbehave did not start with them; it started with their parents. A parent’s personality, through neurotransmitters and genetic predisposition directly has an impact on the child’s personality development. This genetic impact molded by home training determines decisions and outcomes for the rest of the child’s life. Through nurture and structure, a child can have the knowledge to fall back on when in the real world. Thus, when they start their families, the same parental guidance can transfer to the next generation.

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Some parents deny they had anything to do with their child’s personality, but the influences are definitely present. The genetics of personalities is where it starts. Personalities are 50-60% heritable regarding human character. Personality is not affected by one gene, but rather the actions of many genes working together. Common genetics are the foundation of unique behaviors that define the personality of our species. Genes in the neurotransmitter pathways are the main candidates. Dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline are three dimensions related to personality genetics. Scientists have researched their relations to neurotransmitter pathways. Dopamine receptors result in extroverts and positive emotions. Serotonin was related to anxiety and neuroticism, which consists of personality traits related to self-doubt, depression, and negative emotion. Noradrenaline affects hostility, impulsivity, and irritability. Adaptation to biological, social, and psychological stressors is also greatly determined by genes. Self-regulated traits, such as humility, empathy, memory, and ambition, are influenced mostly by interactions among seven hundred genes regardless of culture and environment. Humans are programmed to eat, drink, walk, understand language, etc. However, the strength of these traits differ. Rabbits are fearful, but some rabbits are more fearful than others. Some humans learn to read, write, and speak better than others do. Family studies are more important to my research. They determine the trait that runs in the family. A family study begins with one person that has a trait of interest and searches the family tree for a similar trait of interest. The trait’s existence is compared with the first-degree relative and second-degree relatives to analyze the extent of the shared trait.

Traits are trends of emotions and behaviors that show the habit to react in unique ways under circumstances. Therefore, naturally, research and experiments were conducted to test this fact. Polygenic, many genes working together, studies have shown genetic relations with personality, which reassures that the studies of genetics can assist the mysteries of regular traits to psychiatric disorders. Within early science theories, personalities were believed to be truly nurtured, learned. However, as time passed, scientists found that personalities are also undoubtedly genetic. This brought on the Nature v.s. Nurture debate, wondering if the environment or genes affect personality more. Nature is the environmental influence over someone’s personality, which can be friends, interest, circumstance, and more. Nurture is the genetic influence over someone’s personality including DNA, family history, and more. The answer scientists agreed upon was both. You cannot have genetics without an environment. Like a cake, the way a cake is baked and the ingredients are both equally important. Ninety-nine percent of every human’s genes are identical. Only one percent2 determines how we look and act differently. With science, we can discover how much of each trait, stubbornness or extroversion, is influenced by genes. A research article in 2010 analyzed the role of serotonin in human and mice behavior. Anxiety is also triggered by the disruption of serotonin, balance/peace. When there is an equal distribution of serotonin, anxiety increases without affecting motor behavior. Stress is a pathological emotion where a person resides between normal behavior and a breaking point. Anxiety is related more to the fear of an unwanted event happening in the future. There is a neuroendocrinological component that makes the brain interact with glands to produce responses to stress. These responses hinder task performance, which then triggers anxiety. Uncoordinated movement occurs and immune levels decrease, often dangerously. Many experiments, including the elevated zero mazes, were done to assess the mice’s behavior. Results always came down to the less serotonin, the more anxiety, aggression, lack of mobility, and stress. In diseases like schizophrenia, autism, depression, and anxiety disorders, serotonin was found to be irregular as well.

Personality results in a child’s behavior; thus, looking into the relationships between personality and behavioral genetics will help us understand the background more. Each behavioral trait correlates to many genetic variables, each of which contributes a small amount of influence to the expression of a trait. Chromosomes have genes that influence a person’s personality. They have DNA coiled around histone proteins. In behavioral genetics, genes play a role in a body’s development and physiology, and through this, behavior is created. Genes need to be expressed at a cellular level to influence personality. The inside of a honey bee suggests that messenger RNA is a predictor of personality transition. Human experiments have not been researched as of yet. Behavioral geneticists use the term heritability to describe the amount of genetically-influenced personality. For example, heritability tells us that twenty percent of the variability among people in stubbornness is genetic. Inevitably, a parent’s heritable characteristics determine a home environment. The environment someone is raised in influences genetically predisposed traits. This sets the pace for a child’s personality development. An intelligent parent will most likely create a home rich with education. It leaves an impression on their life outside of the house. They will naturally associate whatever they see with their problems faced in the real world. Behavior can also influence gene expression by activating and deactivating genes. Drug use, eating disorders, and exposure are all connected to gene expression. They turn off or on certain behavioral genes like addiction, desire, or curiosity to result in bad/good habits. Studies claiming parents have no impact on a child’s behavior look over the vital role of encouraging a child’s attributes and discouraging harmful behaviors.

Between parents and children, genes are, you might say, “contagious”. This contagious transfer of personality genetics is called genetic predisposition. Genes that carry traits are not in isolation. The sequence goes as the following: respond to social interaction, transduced neural signals processed through sensory pathways, processed in specific circuits of the brain, and the internal state that adds to behavioral activity. Then, the same sequence applies when the behavioral activity is executed throughout life. Identical twins share only fifty percent of personality traits. Fraternal twins share about thirty percent3 of identical traits. Regular siblings share an estimate of around twenty percent3. Even biologically unrelated children trained under the same roof share merely seven percent of personality traits. Children inherit physical genes just like they inherit personality traits. The University of Minnesota studied 350 pairs of twins on five personalities, openness (curiosity), conscientiousness (work ethic), extraversion (sociability), agreeableness (kindness), and neuroticism (anxiety). For most of these personalities, more than half of the twins’ influences were genetic. Hereditary traits were ambition, vulnerability, stress, risk-seeking, and respect for authority.

What are some more proven genetic and personality relations? Studies about behavioral and personality genetics are endless. For example, the ideals of Sir Francis Galton, a pioneer in behavioral genetics during the 19th century, are often referred to for further research. “Twins have a special claim upon our attention; it is that their history affords means of distinguishing between the effects of tendencies received at birth, and those that were imposed by the special circumstances of their afterlives,” says Galton. After Galton’s observation, twin studies became a common study in behavioral genetics. Scientists use twins to discover genetic connections of a variety of traits from aggression to intelligence to schizophrenia to alcohol dependence. Lead researcher Chi-Hua Chen believed that it is difficult to group genetic variables related to personality, even though it is heritable6. They collected about sixty-thousand genetic samples. Traits like intelligence for example resulted in a mix of environmental circumstances and genetics. Some genes are connected to extraversion versus neuroticism. Other genetic relations show a correlation with extraversion and hyperactivity disorder. Children with developmental delays have been scientifically proven to experience stress from their parents. During a current study from the Mindful Awareness for Parenting Stress Project, results of multiple trials showed that decreased parent-child frustration results in less troublesome behavioral outcomes in the child. High levels of stress within the parent transfer to increased parent-child relational frustration, which then leads to more problems with the child’s behavior.

Not only do these genes determine our personality but our mental health as well. Mental health starts from childhood and even traces back to the parent. Heritable personality disorders need to be brought to light for them to be prevented through parent-child relationships. Personality disorders, ways of acting, feeling, and thinking that are apart from cultural expectation, the stress in the family, or problem functioning, and lasts more time. The way of thinking about yourself and others, way of reacting emotionally, way of empathizing with others, and way of authoring your behavior can all be affected by personality disorders. Our environment triggers an unhealthy extreme of our genetic traits to then turn into psychological disorders. . Genetic epidemiological studies show that personality disorders are moderately heritable. Heritability is usually from 35% to 60%. Mood and anxiety disorders share genetic liability and with neuroticism, which correlates with numerous personality disorders. Life experiences are a part of the problem as well, which gives hope to parents worrying about their children developing anxiety. Family studies show that major depression shares familial risks. In a population based twin study of major depression, dimensional representations were all associated with an increased chance of major depression. Substance abuse shows genetic liability as well. Vulnerability was detected toward alcohol and drug dependence, because of the bloodline.

The three disorders we’re going to explore more about are anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of illness; they have a heritability rate of 26%. Anxiety can consist of panic attacks, social anxiousness, and generalized uneasiness. These three symptoms are related to specific genes. When someone has anxiety, other family members likely have it too. Life experiences are a part of the problem as well, which gives hope to parents worrying about their children developing anxiety. In 2015, the RBFOX1 gene that can be passed down throughout a family was found to make someone more likely to develop anxiety. In a 2018 study, children with anxiety were three times as likely to have one parent with anxiety compared to children without disorders.

Bipolar disorder is one of the most inheritable disorders. It affects how someone thinks and acts; it is a mental illness. This illness causes people to act differently from their normal behavior, occurring in mood swings. A low mood, depression, is when someone with bipolar disorder cries, feels impatient, and is easily irritable. A high mood, mania, is when they feel like they can do anything with excitement and hope. Both moods are triggered by chemical imbalances. The strongest risk factor of bipolar disorder is family history, which is due to certain genes. A child of one parent with bipolar disorder has 15-30% of inheriting bipolar disorder. A child with both parents having bipolar disorder, there’s a 50-70 of inheritance. If there is a child with bipolar illness, there is a 15-25 chance their sibling will have it, too. If a twin has the disorder, there is an 85 chance of inheritance. Children tend to have unanswered questions about bipolar disorder. If it is in their family, it’s a secret no one wants to address, but vulnerability and peace-making can prevent bipolar disorder from being heritable.

PTSD comes from experiencing a traumatic event that affects one’s psyche throughout one lifetime. Recent research shows that PTSD can be inherited. Experiencing trauma leaves a chemical trace on someone’s genes, which can be passed down to later generations. It is labeled as epigenetic inheritance. For example, most children born around the Rwandan genocide had Post-traumatic stress disorder. Epigenetic inheritance with PTSD has also been shown in animals. For example, a rat who experienced an electrical shock had sensitive reactions to threatening situations. Although its offspring did not experience the same trauma, the little rat had the same effects, responding with high sensitivity. Although we may have not experienced trauma ourselves, we can experience epigenetic inheritance from our parents with PTSD. Transgenerational trauma is another word for PTSD passed through generations. A parent can pass symptoms and behaviors of trauma survival onto their children. For instance, childhood abuse can cause recurrences of anxiety and abuse for generations to come. Extreme poverty, deaths of family, crime committed against the family, parents who fought in the war, or a torturous experience of a family member are more examples of events causing transgenerational trauma. Historical trauma, an event in history affecting another generation, is not uncommon. The Holocaust, Trail of Tears, slavery, famine, natural disasters, and terrorism can affect the generation to come as well. The people who survived the Civil War were left with marks of trauma on their minds. This trauma had effects on their children and grandchildren as well. Sons of prisoners of war (PoWs) have an eleven percent13 higher mortality rate than sons of non-PoW veterans. When puppies smell cherry blossom, they become more jumpy and nervous than puppies whose parents have not been trained to fear them. Fear in one generation results in sensitivity within the next generation. Science is not sure how it happens exactly, but they are making progress. Unpacking and untangling your trauma with a therapist for support are some steps toward solving the transgenerational trauma. Taking your children to therapy without exposing your child too much could work to maintain open communication and transparency.

However, parents have an even greater influence, as the source, to stabilize or destabilize the impact of negative sources through interactions. A parent’s personality can influence a child genetically first. Children inhibit about 23,000 genes from their parents. The chemical signature left on these genes is caused by experiences. External experiences cause signals between neurons which then produce proteins. The gene regulatory proteins travel to the nucleus where they attract/repel enzymes that can cling to genes. Positive and negative experiences change the chemistry that encodes genes in brain cells as a child grows. Since the brain is more vulnerable in its early stages, experiences have a strong impact on the physical and mental health for the rest of the child’s life. Children are also born with temperament, which is an early sign of personality. Twenty to sixty percent temperament is genetic. Mobility, approach, adaptability, attention span, and mood are some entities that encompass temperament. A child’s temperament determines how they interact with people and situations. An easy temperament allows a child to make friends easily and handle new challenges with flexibility. A hard temperament can give a child long amounts of time to warm up to people and anxiety when challenged. A difficult temperament can be found in children who are fussy, see the world as negative, or have trouble adjusting to places like school.

As parental influence counts for a lot of a child’s behavior, how do these behaviors respond and mold themselves as a child independently moves through life? Knowing how to take care of kids comes naturally with the help of genetics. According to the American Psychological Association, genetics control about thirty percent of the negative and positive emotions that parents have with their children. Studies show that genes also play a huge role in how older people parent their children. Sometimes parents behave out of whack because they are intimidating the way they were raised. Parenting is not only a reflection of how the previous generation was raised but it is also these genetic influences that can help parents raise kids. The brain is flexible enough to develop traits influenced by biological guardians. When you are taught love from your parents, you can show it to others. Attentive and expressive parents affect how open the adolescent will be in the future. If a parent is neglectful, the child will crave more attention in adulthood. Once a mother or father becomes emotionally reserved, the child develops the same reservation in other relationships. Increasing philosophical attention has become prevalent and truly starts from parental vulnerability. It does indeed take precedence over child vulnerability because without the parent taking a step the child won’t have room to be vulnerable. A parent’s attachment to their child’s feelings creates massive vulnerability, which is essential for an intimate parent-child relationship. It can trigger fear, loss, grief, anger, depression, lack of self-efficacy, financial crisis, and loss of opportunity. Do not fight these feelings; share them. It’s hard for a parent not to transform their emotions into a strain on the relationship with their children. In a multimedia medically reviewed article, Nancy Colier details a real-life experience to prove how a parents’ personality burdens can affect generations to come. A dad named Dan was upset at his teenage daughter named Kim. In the morning, Kim took photos of her dad, and Dan, who is educated in photography, suggested his daughter change her frame to create a richer picture. Kim became irritated with her dad and did not listen to his suggestion. She told Dan to leave her alone so she can take photos however she pleases. Dan is tired of his daughter Kim not respecting him. He believes Kim does not value his opinion. In reality, Dan was the one who had felt like this his whole life, being invisible and underappreciated. His problems being triggered by his daughter Kim merely wanting her own creative space created an unnecessary wedge in their relationship. Kim feels controlled by her father, and he always had to teach her something she already knew. She felt her father was implying she wasn’t good enough because he wanted everything she did to be even better. Thus, Kim rejected her father’s suggestions so her craft could feel like hers. Everyone has been a troubled parent once in our life like Dan, and everyone has been Kim, feeling our parents’ burdens pressed on us. Dan refuses to let aside his ego using the “I’m the father” tactic and never took the time to look at his past to deal with his issues. Self-awareness and discernment are two ideal traits that need to be learned for parenting. If parents continue to have their egos and never admit to having personal burdens, confusing parent-child relations will be the result. Children’s preconceived notions of family chaos from ages nine to twelve and their school performance at age twelve were studied by more than 2,3000 twin pairs. Genetic factors that influence children’s experience of a chaotic home affected how well they did in school. Children who are successful in school tend to come from quiet, organized homes with a predictable routine, regardless of financial status. Children living in a confusing environment have lower expectations for greatness and tendencies to quit when facing a challenge.

Let’s look more into the environmental influences on a child’s life that biological guardians can control. A healthy home environment is significant for the development of a child, while a toxic home environment has harmful effects on a child’s intellectual, emotional, and social development. Poor language skills, a lack of school readiness, and behavioral issues are the results of problematic parenting. Long-term outcomes of parenting environments can range from high school graduation to teen parenthood to adult employment and success in the workforce. The Urban Child Institute clearly explains that a troubled childhood can cause the brain to grow differently. Distinct patterns of brain development have shown to be directly associated with family income and socio-economic factors. Learning and memory, cognitive ability, etc. are some aspects greatly impacted by the environment. Substance abuse is a prominent issue. Whether it’s past trauma, financial status, or parental stress, many factors can influence drug abuse within the household. Based on statistics from 2009 to 20014 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, an estimate of 1 in 8 children seventeen or younger lived in homes with at least one parent struggling with substance abuse. Approximately 1 in 10 children18 lived in houses with a minimum of one parent who had a minimum of one parent with an alcohol use disorder. Children with these parents are at risk for direct effects, like abuse, neglect, or a recurrence of an unhealthy habit. Speaking of habits, addiction affects a child’s mental health as well. It transcends cultures and generations. Parents who are addicted to drugs have trouble effectively raising their children. Norms for a kid are learned early. If a child witnesses the effects of drug abuse, it becomes their view of an effective family/household. It can even affect a child’s physical health and stress levels in the future. Addiction can become a cycle in future generations as well. When children grow up in a household with drug addiction, it becomes hard for them to express themselves. Single parents have great effects on children. . Almost thirty percent of children were part of a single-parent family in 2006. Studies show white children suffer more than black children when it comes to single-parent homes. This is due to a higher percentage of black children being born into single mothers rather than white children seeing the divorce take place. Children born into single parents are more likely to experience unfortunate circumstances like being poor, being victims of crimes, or using drugs. People with single-parent families due to deaths are raised better than the children from other groups. Educational support and proper discipline are also lacking in single-parent homes. Since traditional family ideas are not present, single parents need to do all they can to raise their children right. Emotions need to feel accepted. Liz Hodgman released a qualitative, reviewed, journal article expanding on the emotional environment, as it is often overlooked. The emotional environment’s goal should be for one to accomplish emotional stability regarding emotional needs. A good emotional environment for children includes parents who understand feelings and show empathy, safety, and security that allows them to gain confidence and overcome trials, express themselves knowing they won’t be judged, give warmth from his/her family, practice inclusivity, and encourage independence. An adequate emotional environment determines whether a child is capable of achieving their greatest goals socially and career-wise as an adult. With positive emotional environments, a child can cooperate with others, flourish in public surroundings (learning or social), maintain polite behavior, and become independent. With a negative emotional environment, a child will struggle with forming outside relationships, lack academically, and increase the likelihood of a life of crime. Erik Erikson is a psychologist that invented the eight stages of psychosocial development. Success in all stages produces a healthy personality. Failure can bring about an unhealthy character. Trust versus mistrust is the first stage. For eighteen months, a baby only trusts their parents to care for them. If not met, anxiety and suspicion will develop. The next stage is autonomy versus shame and doubt. Between eighteen months and three years old, a child is concentrated on gaining personal control and independence. The third stage is initiative versus guilt. The child asserts themselves through directing forms of activities and social interaction first. If parents see this as aggressive, a child will become guilty in interaction and restrict initiatives. The fourth stage is industry versus inferiority. A child develops a need for approval from friends, teachers, and family. The next stage is identity versus role confusion. From about twelve to eighteen, adolescents search for an identity through beliefs, goals, and exploration. The sixth stage is called intimacy versus isolation. Between eighteen and forty years old, conflict is centered around intimate and loving relationships. Success results in commitment and safety. Avoiding intimacy can result in depression and loneliness. The seventh stage is generativity versus stagnation. The last stage is ego integrity versus despair. This stage is between sixty-five until death. Looking back on accomplishments develops wisdom. With feeling unproductive in our life or guilty about our past, dissatisfaction and despair is the result.

The response of the child to the environment needed to be studied further to complete the way a child is affected by a biological guardian’s personality. Genes can carry instructions to make you develop feelings related to physical or mental health. For example, Jennifer may not want to go to the gym because her obesity makes her feel uncomfortable. If Jennifer was raised in a rich and healthy home, she would not crave salty and sweet junk food. Since Jennifer was raised in a low-income household, frozen meals and packaged desserts were bought so they were carved as she got older as well. Family processes interact to influence child outcomes. Most family dynamics are similar but their differences allow each outcome to be different. Frustration in a child can translate to ineffective feelings within a parent. War/loss of homeland, family illness, bereavement, parental separation, and resilience are some environments that affect a child. Studies show that people who experience wars and terrorist attacks are more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD caused disturbing thoughts or dreams lasting a long time. War and conflict trigger a stress response system. Maureen Fox in “The Journal of Social Work Practice” tells us that trauma overcomes the barrier that helps us cope with anxiety. Illnesses within the parents of a family require the child to fulfill the role of the adult and affect a child’s effective stress response. With depressed parents, the children may sacrifice their comfort to “rescue them.” Children depend on parents for emotional support, not the other way around. Behavior problems have been researched to stem from illness in the family as well. It can impact a child’s academic performance and future career earnings. Bereavement, meaning the death of a loved one, being robbed, or deprived of something valuable, causes individuals to suppress their feelings with tangible tasks. During mourning, a person’s psychic equilibrium is restored. It is typically accompanied by a loss of interest in the outside world and the capacity to make emotional investments. Obsessiveness with memories or other things can also be the outcome. Children of divorced or separated parents have difficulty adjusting to different stages of life due to experience with broken or detached attachment bonds. From parental separation, children sometimes carry that weight to romantic or platonic relationships. Resilience is adapting to adversity and being able to cope with problems to become stronger. Usually, people who have resilience use mental processes that support personal assets or protect themselves from potential negativity in people or circumstances. It’s being able to bear stress rather than the amount of stress. The more protective factors available, whether in one’s self or their family, the more resilient a young child can be. Young people need exposure to positive people and experiences to gain discernment. Studies show that prolonged exposure to negativity affects a young person’s life choices. To solve familial toxicity, taking responsibility is a way to teach the offspring to do the same, not find a scapegoat. Being available and eating meals are some of the strong ways to establish stability in a child. Every interaction with a child should be an opportunity to make connections.

Speaking of making connections, childhood emotional neglect is a subcategory under environmental effects that should be brought more to the surface. Researcher Daniel Goleman says that over the last two decades children stopped being taught the basic morals of the human heart. Emotional intelligence has so many benefits like health, wealth, relationships, longevity, and success. Emotion dismissing parents are action-driven and don’t want emotions. Emotions are seen as destructive. Emotion coaching parents accept and explore emotions in their child and others. It’s scientifically proven that emotion coaching parents produce kids that excel in environments including school. It starts with the parent being honest with their children about their emotions. Navigating through mistakes and always reassuring that emotions are okay advances the process of gaining this emotional intelligence for both the child and parents. Childhood emotional neglect is a failure of parents to respond to a child’s emotional needs. The neglect has long-term consequences. Unlike emotional abuse, neglect is often not intentional. The parent may still provide necessities but mishandle the key area of parental support. For example, if a child tells a parent about a rude friend and the parent brushes it off, the child learns that those emotional needs aren’t important. Depression, anxiety, apathy, failure to thrive, hyperactivity, aggression, developmental delays, low self-esteem, substance misuse, withdrawal, uncaring, or shunning intimacy are some symptoms of childhood neglect. Once they become adults, effects of childhood neglect include PTSD, emotional unavailability, eating disorder, feeling personally flawed, poor self-discipline, shame, anger, and difficulty trusting each other. Early exposure to neglect can interrupt healthy development and have lifelong effects. When an adult responds absent-minded, children learn and relate to others with difficulty. It activates the stress response. Opportunities for character development are diminished. Neglect is experienced by 78% of children. Physical and psychological childhood neglect interrupts the ways a child’s brain develops and retains information, increasing the risk for emotional disorders. The effects of neglect can be reduced through intervention. Dr. Mari Kovanen, a counseling psychologist, gave us an example of a female named Lisa. Lisa felt distant from her family since she was a girl. In her current romantic relationship, she struggles with being vulnerable. Fears of being dependent, feelings of emptiness, a loss of self-identity, self-blame, and difficulties with connections are the effects of childhood neglect she felt. Identifying the source of her neglect was an essential step to recovery. Then opening up her current connections about her past was important. Understanding her feelings led her to self-discovery, which solved her childhood neglect. Now that we’ve discussed the involuntary connections between parents and children, the ways to solve any mishaps in these connections need to be taught.

Nurturing parents are one of the two ways to strengthen and correct parent-child relationships. Parental nurturing is making a child feel comfortable and confirming that the child is accepted. It confirms that warm emotional interactions with young children aid the growth of the central nervous system. Love, warmth, acceptance, attachment, encouragement, responsiveness, and support is what the right parental behavior consists of. Nurturing relationships allow children to express themselves through a cry, a laugh, or a question and get a cuddle, a smile, or an answer reciprocated back to them from a parent. Being a nurturing parent also makes a child feel safe. When a child feels safe, they have the confidence to explore themselves. A successful childhood can build a child’s capacities for trust, compassion, and empathy. For example, listening to a soft human voice helps children respond to emotional cues and form a sense of self. Bonding with your child is the foundation for social and intellectual development. Intimacy, pleasure, and warmth will be fostered. Bonding builds the following skills: communicating feelings, reflecting on their wishes, and developing their relationships. All these skills result in a child behaving appropriately. Parents need to understand children learn from their facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, words, and what kinds of behavior lead to approval or disapproval. Regulating moods and emotions comes from the parent. Morality is developed by a child watching their parents, too. Abuse, abandonment, and abduction are just some traumatic situations children go through around the world. The solution to healing these traumatic situations is to nurture them. Whatever a child needs psychologically, do whatever can to provide it. Keep promises and be fully attentive. Avoid questioning your child and listen with no preconceptions; use empathy. Children emotionally guard themselves when questions are overwhelming. Adults can produce self-esteem in their children by helping them explore what they can do well. By creating opportunities, children feel good about themselves. Additionally, when parents love each other showing affection, studies say that kids stay in school and marry later in their journey. With a study done with families in Nepal, researchers saw how a parent’s emotional connection to the other parents affects child-rearing to the point of affecting their outcome in life. Children of biological parents who said they loved each other stayed in school longer and married in life. Furthermore, a study at Harvard University concluded that people with nurturing parents flourish in life. Loving children expressively is a factor in their potential. Studies show that flourishing is not just avoiding disease but also experiencing emotions of thriving. Research associated flourishing with lowering behavioral problems and preserving life in adolescents. Nurturing a child consists of many things, so I have narrowed it down to three areas: communication, affection, and structure.

Good communication informs, reassures, and engages families. One word can hold so much power when bonds and emotions are involved. Positive communication is there to give accurate information, voice desires, and keep trust true. Misunderstandings and difficult conversations are common among family members. You know them so well that you assure how they will react to what you say. Communication is important for developing a bulletproof parent-child relationship that cannot be bothered by sensitive subjects. Any concern needs to be heard among close relationships, especially parent and child, no matter the risk. Never look at or place expectations on children to respond in certain ways. Balance quality fun time and learning opportunities for your child. A detailed message board from the University of Missouri tells us every age group requires a different type of communication. If the kid is an infant to twelve months old, responding quickly with adorable voice expressions helps the baby keep the focus on interaction. From 12 to 36 months, the learning begins. Parents should label the toddler’s emotions and cognitive feelings. There should be constant instruction for what to do next. Let the toddlers’ creativity run wild through playing with toys as well. From 3 to 6 years old, preschoolers talk in full, grammatically correct sentences. They often talk to themselves when playing; parents need to encourage this imaginary communication with them. Dr. Wendy Mogel has good points from her book, “Voice Lessons for Parents,” about communication. Most parents are good communicators if they aren’t talking to their children. Pitches rise and indignant tones take over. “Don’t act like a child” is used to silence children. She believes if children trust the parent, the parent makes time, and the parent is willing to follow, the relationship can be an incredible journey. Each stage and age should bring opportunities to connect, not silence. School-age kids from 6 to 12 years ask more questions about past experiences and seek justification on the way life is. Parents need to be aware of their child’s likes and dislikes and peer relationships. This is the age where parents need to give a reason when correcting their kid’s behavior. Adolescents from age 12 to 18 are interested in being in tune and depth with themselves and others. They want to discover who they truly are and realize how imperfect their parents are. Acknowledge that they are growing ideas that are either similar to your own or completely different from you. Find peace in that. Communicating with your adult children can feel like your spouse because they both trigger anger, joy, pride, or embarrassment. Sensitivity, patience, practice, and empathy are needed to communicate effectively with your adult children. Regularly communicating builds a child’s perspective on themselves and life positively and successfully.

Stemming from communication, encouragement is an honorable mention among the ways a parent should nurture their children. Encouragement is when you give your child approval for what they do and how they behave. Through encouragement, you are teaching them how to think positively of themselves, developing a sense of self. Encouragement is necessary at every age, and sometimes it is done for different reasons to accommodate that age. One cohesive thing about encouragement, no matter what age, is that it’s for effort. Children are more likely to repeat whatever actions earn encouragement. Parents should use praise to change difficult behavior to desirable behaviors. Encouragement is given from every angle for children. Some are lucky enough to receive encouragement at home from their parents with positive short-term and long-term endeavors. However, kids also get encouragement from peers to do bad things like smoke cigarettes or have sex unsafely. Parents need to realize that children value their opinions. When a child goes through something, a parent’s word can pull them out of a dark place. This exchange of encouragement needs to start early. From three years old to eighteen, an adolescent should know their parents believe in them. Remember, encouragement is different from praise. Praise can be vague, but encouragement is more selfless. It gives someone self-reflection. Being present is encouraging on its own. Involvement shows a child that they have support and that they’re not alone. A lot of adolescents are sure of what to do and how to execute it but have insecurities and fears weighing them down due to past disappointment or reaction from parents to other people. They need a parent to be a cheerleader throughout the whole journey called life. Not to merely claim victory but tell them to finish strong when they feel defeated.

A child needs affection to be purely happy. The lack of parental warmth makes children more likely to be stressed because parents’ expectations outweigh their affection by a long shot. Affection aids your child’s mental health, makes your child physically healthier, develops the brain and memory, creates a stronger relationship, and makes your child less fearful and more world round. When kids get older, parents can demonstrate affection in non-physical ways, like being attentive, remembering and celebrating significant times in their lives, vocalizing love, and kissing them good night. Empathy is the main quality of nurturing a child. When your child approaches you with concerns, relate to their feelings and vocalize yourself showing your understanding. Hugs, tickles, etc. develop a sense of identity and control when guided even after misbehavior. Positive touch allows the child to obey easily without complaint. Research shows links between parental affection and happiness in the future. Higher self esteems, improved academic performances, stronger parent-child relationships, and fewer moral issues have been linked to affection. In 2010, Duke University found that babies with affectionate mothers are more determined and less uneasy. More studies show that oxytocin is a chemical in the brain released when someone shows affection26. Oxytocin is said to be the hormone tied to the positive impacts that come with affection. Infants also benefit greatly from skin-to-skin contact. Babies with affectionate and attentive mothers grow up happier, more resilient, and less anxious as adults. From the moment your child is born, you are encouraged to hold and rock him/her. When kids get older, playing pretend games like the kissing monster or games with hugging keeps affection joyous. Hugging your child should be a part of your daily routine. Even using affection after disciplining a child is recommended. However, it’s essential to be careful to not go overboard and smother your children. Respect his/her comfort levels, and be prepared for various stages of life. Affection is so powerful it can even cancel out mental illnesses and mold children into mature adults. Safety, security, and love are provided by affection, which then gives the child power to develop good connections with others. It is executed through unconditional love, which is not to be mistaken for discipline.

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Implementing a beneficial structure is the last entity of all-around nurturing parents. When you use manners and coping strategies, you should teach your children to execute the same to solve the management of your child’s behavior. Most children learn to express their feelings in hurtful statements. They tend to think they’re entitled to themselves only. Instead, teach your kid to truly express their feelings politely. Talk aloud about the feelings your child is experiencing, and if they are not feeling this way, allow the child to correct you. Feed what you want to grow. When you give positive attention to your kid’s good behavior and ignore your child’s bad behavior more, she/he will most likely start acting in a better manner in hopes to get your attention. Expectations then become reliable. Children whose primary caregiver is unreliable can grow with a feeling of disorganization. They crave reassurance and test people to see if they are trustworthy. After pushing people away, they turn it around saying they knew they were going to end up abandoned. The fault does not lie with them. The parents did not give boundaries and structure. They were unable to fulfill their child’s important needs. A study was done with rhesus monkey parents regarding the value of early nurturing. They were distinguished based on genetic differences. One group had anxious and timid tendencies. When given alcohol, they drank to suppress the pain, which left their offspring abandoned. The second group had more aggression so they drank uncontrollably, which left the baby monkeys stressed. The final group was super moms, who focused only on grooming and cuddling their babies. When the anxious monkeys were raised by the super moms, all nervousness and anxiety-related alcohol abuse disappeared. The more chaotic a household is, the more their children will face issues. They can face lower IQs, higher levels of aggression, more stress, and poor sleep patterns. “In 2015, an estimated 683,000 children were victims of maltreatment. In 2015, more than 1,670 children died from child abuse and neglect — about 75% of these deaths occurred among children younger than age 3.” However, regardless of how deep the scars cut, it is never too late. People can heal by finding the source, restructuring their own life, and finding confidence. Stability is the extent of predictability and consistency in a relationship including the social, emotional, and physical environments. Nurturing, which encompasses it all, gives children access to people who can sensitively respond to and fulfill their needs. These relationships intercede the current exposure to violence, abuse, and neglect. Nurture is implemented into the child’s life, so the real home training can begin.

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