Is it nature or is it nurturing? This is an age-old debate in the world of psychology and has been a source of controversy for decades. At some point, parents may have wondered of which one has most influenced their child’s personality traits, abilities, etc. And while psychologists and parenting experts have distinct beliefs, studies have shown that there is more of a continuum, with both nature and nurturing interacting. With this knowledge, we can engage children in programs that will nurture the expression of traits that will lead to greater success and happiness.
In the nature versus nurture debate, nativists believe that all our physical and personality traits are pre-wired and cannot be influenced. On the flip side, empiricists believe that environmental factors such as childhood experiences, parenting styles, etc., influence how we develop. Today, most psychology and child development areas consider both sides and look at how nature and nurture influence how an individual develops. This approach evolved from a field of study called epigenetics.
Epigenetics is the study of how external factors can change the way genes are activated or deactivated. While we are all born with genes inherited from our parents, early childhood experiences, relationships, culture, and more can influence how much of a specific gene is developed. These environmental aspects influence the chemical makeup of the gene and are known as an epigenome, which alters the expression of the gene. This is why identical twins can show different personalities, skills, and behaviors. Since young brains rapidly develop, they are more sensitive to these changes. Therefore, negative early childhood experiences can lead to adverse changes in the brain and cause the emergence of more harmful personality traits.
To give children the best shot at positive gene expression, we must provide supportive and nurturing experiences. And while this is most beneficial early on, neuroplasticity can support new neural connections, later on in life, to compensate for less than ideal circumstances early in life. Adapting positive parenting styles and reinforcement practices, along with secure attachments, will provide children with a strong foundation for development.
At Gentle East Martial Arts we provide a nurturing environment that applies the latest strategies in child development, teaching skills, and psychology to help children become strong, healthy, and resilient. This cutting-edge approach incorporates the activities that boost the release of positive chemicals in the brain, providing a healthy D.O.S.E. of constructive neural connections. The game-based learning format creates the most effective means for new learning to take place. In addition, our Instructors employ strategies that motivate students to do their best and help them feel successful. Posts such as these which focus on Parenting Skills provide added support to families as well.
When we understand how a child’s environment plays a role in influencing specific genes, we can create more ideal experiences. Positive parenting practices and child development programs that engage students and support their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development will increase the positive chemical markers on each gene, thereby furthering their expression. This whole-child approach will foster happier and more successful children.