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What Can Influence a Child's Behavior?

by Kay Ireland

Your child is one in a million -- no other kid is just like him. That's because your child's personality and behavior are made up of a combination of natural inclinations and personality combined with external influence that can affect the way that he behaves. Whether he's acting out at the grocery store, giving you extra attention or just being a kid, almost every facet of his life has the capacity to affect his behavior in some way.

Environment

The environment where a child lives, plays, learns and even sleeps can all affect the way he acts. Children thrive on consistency, so even minor changes to physical environment can affect the way a child behaves, according to the Center for Inclusive Child Care. When a child feels safe and secure in his environment, he'll likely act differently than if he were to feel nervous or scared. Of course, all children react to the physical environment differently.

Parents

As a parent, you're one of the most -- if not the most -- important influences on your child's behavior. Everything from the way you approach physical touch to the way that you discipline your child can affect his overall behavior. While it seems like a hefty responsibility to carry, remember that your child also has his own personality, likes, dislikes and tendencies. You influence his behavior, but you're not entirely responsible for his disposition.

Physical and Mental Development

The rate at which a child develops physically affects his behavior. For instance, a toddler often resorts to physical aggression against other children because he's not yet developed the ability to use words. As that ability develops, you may see a change in how he approaches conflict in the future. Younger children are immature and behave one way, while older children are more mature, thanks to their physical and mental development.

Diet and Rest

Don't make the mistake of underestimating how important a child's diet and rest are to his behavior. Anyone who's ever dealt with a preschooler meltdown or a teen rant due to a lack of sleep knows that proper rest is vital. When it comes to nutrition, the "Handbook of Pediatric Nutrition" notes a child is what he eats. When eating foods high in preservatives and sugar, yet low in nutritional value, a child's cognition and alertness could be affected. A diet high in sugar can also cause hyperactive spurts, followed by sugar crashes -- periods of fatigue.

Media

A child's TV choices have a hefty influence on how he acts when he walks away from the set. The American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry notes that children watch an average of 28 hours of TV each week, and those who view violence are more likely to be aggressive in their real lives. Television can influence the way a child acts, particularly when he can't discern between what's real and what's not on TV.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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