Factors in Child Behaviour: What To Know
7 min read
Last Modified 27 July 2023 First Added 27 July 2023
Written by ‘The Experts at The Good Play Guide’
Children are remarkable individuals with their own distinct personalities and temperaments.
Their behaviour is shaped by various factors, such as genetics, their surroundings, and social interactions.
Some children may naturally be more introverted/extroverted, or more emotional by nature, however the environment in which they grow and develop plays an important role in shaping their behaviour.
Factors such as family dynamics, parenting styles, peer relationships, and cultural influences all contribute to a child’s behaviour, and recognising these factors is extremely helpful for parents to be able to respond to their child’s needs and support their well-being.
There are four distinct areas of behaviour that play crucial roles in our daily lives;
A set of cognitive processes that enable us to plan, organise and carry out tasks effectively. Skills such as attention, working memory, problem solving and impulse control are involved, and a well-developed executive function means you can prioritise tasks, set goals and adapt to changing circumstances successfully.
The ability to recognise, understand and manage one’s emotions. It involves skills like self-awareness, emotional expression, and emotional control. Effective emotional regulation allows us to respond to situations in a calm manner, cope with stress, and maintain healthy relationships.
How we perceive and respond to sensory information from our environment; our brain’s ability to interpret and organise sensory input such as touch, sight, sound, smell and taste. People with sensory processing difficulties may be over or under sensitive to these things, which leads to challenges in daily activities and social interactions.
The ability to manage behaviour, emotions, and attention, to adapt to different situations. This enables us to meet goals, using skills such as self-control, self-discipline and self-monitoring. Strong self-regulation enables us to control impulsive behaviour, delay gratification and maintain focus, leading to better academic achievement and emotional well-being.
When a child’s behaviour goes unnoticed or is unaddressed, it can have a significant impact on various aspects of their life.
They may struggle with developing healthy relationships and feeling a sense of belonging. It can also lead to difficulties in navigating social situations which could result in feelings of isolation, loneliness and trouble with making friends.
There is an increased chance of stress, anxiety and depression, which can persist into adolescence and beyond. A child’s maturity can also be affected and they may experience difficulties transitioning into adulthood, facing challenges in managing responsibilities and making informed decisions.
Additionally, their academic performance can be affected, as unmanaged behaviour problems can lead to problems with concentration and focus.
By acknowledging and working with children to overcome their behavioural challenges, parents, caregivers and teachers can help set them on a path to a brighter and more fulfilling future.
Parenting styles, the environment, interactions with peers, cultural norms and values, as well as inherited traits, all contribute to a child’s behavioural patterns, and understanding these factors is important for parents to provide guidance and support for their child.
The way parents interact with, guide and discipline their children can significantly influence their development and behaviour.
Parents who are warm, supportive, and good communicators tend to instil feelings of self-worth, confidence, and resilience in their children, who are then more likely to develop effective coping mechanisms, such as problem-solving skills and emotional regulation.
On the other hand, negative parenting methods such as harsh discipline, neglect, or inconsistent rules, can have a detrimental effect on a child’s behaviour, leading to negative beliefs, low self-esteem and difficulties in coping with challenges.
Encouraging a child’s creativity through, for example, STEM toys and activities can have a positive effect on their behaviour.
In contrast, strict parenting styles can stifle creativity or discourage independent thinking, and could lead to a fear of making mistakes, and a need to conform to others’ expectations.
The environment and surroundings affect children’s opportunities for play and social interactions. For example, factors such as the weather and available space can significantly impact how much access children have to outdoor play.
Engaging in outdoor activities, such as riding a bike, playing with balls, and exploring playground equipment, promotes physical activity, social interaction, imaginative play, exploration, and risk taking; all of which help promote positive behaviour. The Entertainer has many toys and play equipment to keep littles ones engaged and active.
In urban areas with limited open spaces, or in areas where there are safety concerns, children will have fewer opportunities for outdoor play, and this can impact their behaviour as their physical activity levels, creativity and social interaction is limited.
Cultural differences can influence the types of toys and play activities that are valued and encouraged. For example, some cultures may prioritise educational toys or games to promote cognitive development, such as puzzles, and problem-solving games, while others may place emphasis on toys that develop specific skills or reflect cultural traditions, such as dolls.
More specifically, a child in the UK is likely to be brought up to be polite, modest and have a respect for authority. They may be taught to say “please” and “thank you” and wait their turn. In contrast, a child in the US is more likely to be encouraged to voice their opinions and assert their independence, and there may be more emphasis on personal achievement and confidence. These cultural differences can influence children’s behaviour patterns, communication styles and social expectations.
A child’s peers play a significant role in shaping their behaviour as they try to navigate social interactions and feel a sense of belonging.
Children naturally want to fit in and be accepted by their peer group which can influence their behaviour in several ways.
Children may mimic the behaviour of those around them. This can be positive if those behaviours show kindness, empathy, or hard work. However, peer influence can also be negative, such as with peer pressure.
In this situation, children may feel pressured into behaving in a risky or unhealthy way to gain acceptance, such as substance abuse or being aggressive. It is important for parents to have open communication and build strong relationships with their children which will help them gain self-confidence and the ability to resist negative influences.
Genetics plays a role in shaping a child’s behaviour. Inherited traits contribute to a child’s temperament and behaviour, but it is important to note that genetics is not the sole influence on a child’s personality.
Some children may inherit a predisposition to anxiety, aggression or addiction which could make them more susceptible to developing certain behaviour patterns, but genetics cannot fully explain or predict a child’s behaviour.
As mentioned earlier, other factors such as parenting and peer influences also play a role, and a supportive and nurturing environment can help counteract the negative impact of any genetic predispositions a child may have.
As parents, being aware of the various factors that shape our children’s behaviour is important.
Understanding that they are unique individuals with their own personalities, temperaments, and experiences will help us to approach any challenges they may face with empathy and understanding.
Staying attuned to the factors we have discussed will help us to recognise their needs, encourage their strengths and lay the foundations for a happy and successful life.