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What Can Influence a Child's Behavior?

Updated February 16, 2017

A child's behaviour is affected by many factors--biological, social, emotional and environmental. Some of these influences are problematic with practical solutions. Others are more complex and need to be addressed by physicians or emotional health professionals. The main influences on a child's behaviour are discussed below.

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Biological Factors

Children's behaviour is definitely affected by traits inherited from their parents. Although subject to change by outside influences, a child's personality, his likes and dislikes, and temperament are in place by the time he is a toddler.

Social Factors

Once a child is exposed to peers on an everyday basis, as in school, her behaviour is impacted by the influence of others. Because of a desire to be accepted in the group, a child may act in ways she would not at home. Children with strong wills may try to assert their dominance in a group with words or physical action, such as threats and intimidation.

Emotional Factors

Emotional issues have an influence on children's behaviour. If a child is diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), for example, his behaviour may be erratic. Even the medication for ADD and ADHD can cause irritability and sadness. This may lead to a child withdrawing or acting out with inappropriate behaviour.

Environmental Factors

The home environment can influence children's behaviour negatively or positively. In homes where there is frequent domestic turmoil, a child may behave a certain way in reaction to the lack of security she feels. An unsafe school environment can cause similar behaviour. Teasing and other bullying actions are often manifested by children who do not have secure home and/or school surroundings.

Parental/Home Factors

Children's behaviour is strongly influenced by factors such as physical, sexual and mental abuse suffered at the hands of parents or other family members. Children of abuse have a strong chance of repeating the cycle of abuse when they are adults if they do not receive counselling or therapy. Children may not behave according to accepted norms if they act out of anger and depression resulting from what they have experienced.

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About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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