Spare the rod... does it really matter?
Your child has a violent temper and people blame you for it - a fairly common situation most parents find themselves in. But according to a recent Australian study, problem kids are born, not made.
The study conducted by psychologists at the Royal Children's Hospital at Melbourne claims that children are born with an innate temperament which predisposes them to various behaviours. These behaviours are not acquired due to faulty parenting or inefficient bringing up. The study drew the conclusions after analysing data collected over a 17-year period from 2500 families.
Though the researchers did not discredit the role of parenting in the process, they opined that parents can only superficially alter the behaviour of children to make it more socially acceptable. But due to their inborn differences, some children will be easy to bring up while others will not. The researchers also felt that these individual differences must be specially considered by parents while raising their children.
The study, if replicated, could be a major contributor to the ongoing nature vs. nurture debate in child development. According to this debate, naturists say that parenting does not affect a child's behaviour since the child's innate tendencies are decided before birth. The nurturists on the other hand feel that a child's personality is like a blank slate that can be moulded by the environment around him.
However, the Australian study underlines the fact that parenting strategies need to be individualised for each child. Parents need to be flexible in their approach to children to ensure the best for them. So instead of 'sparing the rod and spoiling the child', it is best to live and let live; the child's temperament will take care of the rest.
December 11, 2000 (PTI)
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