Impact of genetic and environment factors on children's behavior How often, when we look at our children, do we wonder about the origin of some of their behaviour? Astrologists would say the time and place of birth are significant factors. But are we as parents perhaps responsible? What influence do environmental factors have? Whatabout genetic history? Most doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists will agree that genetic and environmental factors play an equally important role in determining a child's behaviour. Environmental factors could include living in a war zone, poverty, dietary concerns, violence as part of the home experience and the amount of uncondi- tional love the child is receiving. Now mice, in my opinion, are not the brightest of creatures; neither do they appear to have a well-developed emotional inventory. But separate them from their mothers at birth and even they experience lasting upsets in emotional behaviour, to the point that there are alterations in the neurotransmitter systems in their brains. Children being infinitely more complex creatures are then affected to a far greater extent, and chromatin (the complex combination of DNA, RNA and protein that makes up chromosomes) changes in genes in the brain have been shown to appear after exposure to chronic social stress. Which is not to say that a few days of stress in the home is going to majorly impact your child's future, but constant stress or living in a war zone may well do. Environmental factors may be hard to control. If some environmental factors may be hard to alter individually, other things such as ensuring your child has a healthy diet, attention, love and learning to bring your own stress into balance, are well within your control. If stress can alter the actual structure of genes negatively, what if a positive and peaceful lifestyle could have the reverse effect? If you feel your genes simply are what they are, then think again. What you do to alter your behaviour could directly influence not only the genes ofyour child, but the genes of their children and so on. A simple act of bringing your life into greater balance could have a positive knock-on effect for generations to come. Threads of behaviour can be seen to perpetuate throughout generations until resolved. Often these threads may swing from one aspect to its opposite as they go down through history, both in individual families and in larger groups of people. Characteristics such as being a miser and spendthrift, bully and coward, victim and tyrant, or strictness and control versus no rules and no control, may repeat themselves alternately, over and over through generations.
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