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'I blame it on their parents'

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Introduction

'I blame it on their parents' To what extent are parents responsible for the development of disturbing behaviour in their young children? In this essay I will be looking at the possible causes of disturbing behaviour in young children and discussing how much of this behaviour can be attributed to parenting. It is important to clarify firstly what we mean when we say 'disturbing behaviour'. We could say that it's any behaviour which appears problematic, disruptive and upsetting. Although we must also ask who the behaviour is causing a problem for. One key issue in the discussion of children's behaviour is whether the behaviour is actually a problem for the child or for those around the child. This continues into whether the problem is created by the perception or expectations of those around the child of how the child should be. When the child does not fit into these expectations their behaviour is then labelled as disturbing. This is a complex subject which will not be discussed at this point although it will be useful to keep these issues in mind as they will have bearing on our understanding of the causes of disturbing behaviour. ...read more.

Middle

(Page 73, Chapter 2, Children's Personal and Social Development, Woodhead, Rhodes and Oates). A study by Dadds and colleagues, 2003, found that when a mother attributes 'bad' behaviour to the child, and 'good' behaviour to outside causes, the child is more likely to display disturbing behaviour. (Page 75, Chapter 2, Children's Personal and Social Development, Woodhead, Rhodes and Oates). Therefore when the mother displays a negative attitude towards her child, the result is more likely to be negative behaviour. This is reminiscent of basic labelling theory. The mother believes the child to be disturbed, reacts to the child as if the child is disturbed, the child believes the label and behaves as expected to behave and this may lead to a vicious circle of behavioural problems. We have seen how the mother may affect the child's behaviour, we now look at the role of the father. Recently, with the increasing involvement of fathers in childcare, studies have been carried out into the various effects fathers may or may not have on their offspring. A NICHD (2000) study found that factors such as the father's age, personality, profession and quality of marital relationship all had some effect on childhood behaviour. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus can parents be blamed for disturbing behaviour? Can they be held fully responsible? To say yes would be to ignore the wide range of factors which affect a child's development. We would have to ignore the child itself. We would have to ignore the environment (school, health, family, culture and society) in which the child is developing. We would have to agree that a combination of the parent's genes and type of parenting wholly dictates how the child behaves. As discussed in this essay, this appears not to be the case. Parenting and childhood development is not simplistic. Disturbing behaviour does not seem to have one cause, rather, many different contributing factors and each of those factors is dependent in turn on another set of factors and this builds into a tangled and complex matrix. Parents do have an important role and should accept some responsibility for their children's behaviour but not all. In general it seems to be the environment as a whole in which the child grows which determines the likelihood of disturbing behaviour. To misquote that old adage - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A child is made and shaped by their parents but they are unique individuals continuously interacting with their environment in both an active and passive manner. Blame for disturbing behaviour cannot therefore be apportioned to any one single factor. ...read more.

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