Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

At what age do you think signs of a child's future behavior, good or bad, starts manifesting itself?

Asked by Dutchess_III (27097 points ) April 30th, 2014

I visited a friend yesterday who has a 15 month old grandson. I let the kid carry my keys around for a bit.
Then Gramma offered him a sippy cup of water. He squatted down, laid the keys on the floor, stood back up and accepted the sippy cup. I was kind of amazed that he laid the keys on the floor instead of just dropping them. I wondered if this was indicative of anything. That family has a history of turning out well-behaved children.

Conversely, we had an acquaintance over not long ago who has a grandchild about the same age. This kid was going around knocking stuff off of tables just for the hell of it. I quickly gathered up everything he could reach and put it up high. That family has a history of turning out poorly behaved children.

So at what age do you think future behavior starts showing up, and why? What is there that a parent could even do in the first 12 months to cause that to start manifesting itself?

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53 Answers

janbb's avatar

In a similar example to yours, I was hurrying my son who was less than two out the door for his swimming lesson and noticed he had stopped to straighten the door mat. He has continued to be extremely neat and organized.

Judi's avatar

My son was a perfect child until first grade. He’s 29 and still hasn’t recovered.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Neatness freaks at that age tends to indicate a bit of autism or asperger’s. Nothing to be concerned with at this age, but still a sobering instant to be remembered come vaccination time.

So it’s fair to say that the child’s future behavior actually begins manifesting itself inside momma’s womb.

Cruiser's avatar

I would say around the first or second week of life. Kids/babies mimic and mirror most of the actions, behavior and mannerisms of those around them and why @Judi your son probably derailed after going to school and learning bad behaviors and habits from fellow classmates. I remember when they were young and in school it was almost daily I would be asking where did you learn to act/talk like that? Time outs right after school were very common.

Judi's avatar

@Cruiser, it was when the kids started teasing him because his dad committed suicide . He is also bipolar so I also thing that’s when the first symptoms began to manifest.

Cruiser's avatar

@Judi That was when my son started to act out because of teasing on the playground. We did not find out he had sensory processing disorder until 2 years later after he went into full on school refusal by tipping over desks and kicking and punching the principal. It was a mess that took a tremendous amount effort to bring him back around. So sorry about the news of his dad…that had to be a very difficult time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not talking about personality guys. I’m talking about behaviors. Learned behaviors. At what point does a kid’s training start showing? What do parents of well behaved kids even do in those first 12 months?

When my daughter was two she’d straighten things up too. I think she was just trying to control what she could control. She had a couple of rough first couple of years (I didn’t come into her life until she was 18 months old.)

Dan_Lyons's avatar

In the womb.
It’s a known fact boys are already grasping their little tool which they will one day do on a regular basis for years.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT INSTINCT OR PERSONALITY! I’M TALKING ABOUT LEARNED BEHAVIOR!

Symbeline's avatar

I couldn’t say. But if a child starts hurting or killing small animals, you got a problem on your hands.
I have no idea if being a serial killer is in your genes, but if I’m to trust the story of Edward Gein, it certainly is something that can be nurtured, indirectly, through unhealthy environments.

I know that ain’t what we’re talking about really, but behaviors that differ from one another so much as to be leagues apart are probably sharing some frighteningly similar factors. One cannot dismiss the innate. But we can’t just blame that, either.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

These behaviors are learned. {self-taught}

And how about twins in the womb. they are teaching one another behaviors all day which will be exhibited later in life.

turtlesandbox's avatar

What @Cruiser said. Babies mimic the people who care for them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The point I’m trying to make is that some kids are well behaved and others aren’t. SOME of that has to do with personality, but I think we all agree that MOST of it has to do with upbringing. When you have a family that consistently turns out brats, and another family that consistently turns out well-behaved children this is due mostly to upbringing. I just was wondering at about what age does this up bringing begin manifest itself?

Thanks you @Cruiser and @turtlesandbox. Your answers are the closest thing to answering the question so far. After about 12 months we consciously discipline our kids for doing the wrong thing. Before about 12 months we don’t really do that much,but we do something for it to manifest itself so early.

Symbeline's avatar

Thanks you @Cruiser and @turtlesandbox. Your answers are the closest thing to answering the question so far. Well Sooo-reh for trying to offer some insight haha.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Some children’s future behavior begins to manifest far far back in the past of their family lineage gene pool.

My smooth southern accent is a direct result of my great great grandpappy’s geographic location. Perhaps my taste for moonshine is as well.

Judi's avatar

I disagree. I think there’s more genttics to it than you do. I have three children with two different biological fathers. The oldest is pretty much a slob. Brilliant, but a slob. I have overcome it quite a bit but dropping things and forgetting because I’m on to the next thing is pretty much in my DNA as well.
The two with a different bio father who was also as chaotic as me turned out to be neat freaks like their paternal grandmother who was barely around for their childhood.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Judi but do they all act pretty much the same way when it comes to their social manners, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and respecting other people’s property? They all have different personalities. I couldn’t agree more. So do my kids, but they are all well mannered.

In the kid in my second example, just randomly throwing things that he could reach onto the floor, why would he do that? He was about 10 months old at the time. I know my kids and the grand babies (like the twins) pick up things to examine them but they never wantonly threw things around. So was this behavior somehow encouraged by the adults in some subtle way?

fluthernutter's avatar

It’s hard to answer your question in the way that you’re expecting it because a lot of people disagree with the premise of it.

I think much of what you are attributing to learned behavior can also be attributed to genes. Judi provided an excellent example.

Also, I don’t think throwing objects is always poor behavior. It can be when it’s about getting attention. But it may just be about curiosity. Curiosity can be messy and sometimes dangerous. But not a bad thing in and of itself.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But the examples Judi provided are attributes of personality. I’m looking for social behaviors. As I said, I agree that kids can have wildly different personalities. My daughter Corrie is a slob, her brother, Chris is neat and tidy. Corrie is volatile, whereas Chris is easy going. I agree those factors can be contributed to by genetics, in a big way, because I could see those traits in them as new borns.
However, they both have the same set of social standards. They’re both polite and respect other people and other people’s property. They are both honest. That kind of things is learned.

If you beat on a kid and yell at them, they’ll probably beat on other people and yell at them. If you take that same kid and raise them with gentleness and love he will probably not grow up to beat on other people and yell at them.

canidmajor's avatar

How and when to display the learned behaviors can be heavily influenced by personality and genetic tendencies. All of the children may learn manners in the same fashion, at the same age from their parents, yet make their own choices about using those manners. I am very different from my sibs, as my children are very different from each other. One is quiet, very laid back, always “well-behaved”, the other is stubborn, outspoken, and feels that “please” and “thank you” are not platitudes, but must be earned.

fluthernutter's avatar

I don’t think a toddler decides to lay down the keys because it is the polite thing to do.

I think what you are seeing are the beginnings of a deliberate and/or fastidious personality.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not a conscious politeness @fluthernutter. I agree. But it could be a reflection of the family dynamics.
But going back to my examples in the details: As I said, most of the kids in family of the first kid, who laid the keys down, are well behaved kids. Most of the kids in the second family of the kid just throwing shit around, are very, very ill behaved kids (I mean serious brats!) I can promise that in each instance their behavior is because of their up bringing. It just struck me as odd, the two completely different actions between little kids of the same age, especially given their family histories.

SpatzieLover's avatar

This is the age old nurture vs. nature debate. Personally, I side with DNA (nature) when it comes to personality and behavior traits.

My son was stubborn in utero. He was a persistent infant. He is a persistent boy. He prefers things clean, tidy and organized. I had little (other than genes) to do with any of these traits.

ucme's avatar

From the moment the male infant is nursed on the breast, he begins a lifelong love affair with the tit.

kritiper's avatar

12 to 24 months. Like a dog, you have to start early.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Forget nature/nurture. Some kids are brats, some are not. At what age do we begin to see future brattyness, for whatever reason? As a newborn? At a month? Six months? I think I was seeing it in a 10 month old.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@kritiper And girl babies don’t?

longgone's avatar

I don’t see children as “brats” at all. If I don’t know them well, I figure I am just seeing a snapshot. The kid may be tired, hungry, even in pain.

If I do know them well, I try to see what they’re doing right as often as I can. It’s ridiculously easy to put a child into a certain category.

As to “What is there that a parent could even do in the first 12 months to cause that to start manifesting itself?”

Lead by example? Be gentle and loving? I think this, as opposed to the “training” you cited, is what allows children to turn into well-rounded adults.

fluthernutter's avatar

I’m just going to ignore your details, examples, assumptions and comments so I can answer your question.

I think you can begin to get a glimpse of future behavior anywhere from 12 months to 3 years. That’s because this is when they are learning impulse control. Basically, they are setting up lifelong patterns of how they will react to stimuli.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “Some children’s future behavior begins to manifest far far back in the past of their family lineage gene pool.”

@Judi “I disagree. I think there’s more genttics to it than you do.”

I believe that’s pretty much what I said Ma’am.

Judi's avatar

@Dutchess_ll,
They all knew how to be well mannered and put on the charm when it benefited them but the younger two seemed to take pride in embarrassing me in public. They both did a little time in juvenile hall. The older of the two is now an amazing wonderful person. My son is still angry and bitter and blames me for all his problems.

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III I didn’t specify. Girls as well as boys, same early start.

Coloma's avatar

Temperament, plain and simple.
Each of us is born with a particular personality/temperament style, which remains intact, despite “nurture.” Traits may be squashed or molded by nurturing patterns but the core traits remain unchanged, modified perhaps in certain environments.
Some of us are naturally more bold, curious, exploring and inventive and others more cautious, reserved, timid.

Serious/pensive/cautious vs. playful/curious/bold.
Introvert/extrovert.
At that young an age, 15 months, you are seeing nature not nurture.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Coloma So that expains why my real-life personalities and my Fluther personalities are completely different…

Dutchess_III's avatar

@kritiper My bad…I meant to address that to @ucme, where he said, “From the moment the male infant is nursed on the breast, he begins a lifelong love affair with the tit.”

@Coloma I have to disagree that ”At that young an age, 15 months, you are seeing nature not nurture.” If you have a 15 month old who is born with a laid back, easy-going personality (as my son was) but who’s been neglected, abused, unloved, yelled at from the day he was born, that child is going to show signs of anger and frustration at 15 months, even at a few months of age, that he wouldn’t otherwise.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Savannah is another example. At 13 months she learned to control the nature part of her that wants to bite the livin’ shit out of her twin bro! The control she learned was due to “nurture.” You can watch even today, getting up on him, pressing her face into his back or whatever, SO wanting to bite, then backing off without doing so.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well…obviously short of serious abuse. Of course abuse can and will effect an infant and toddlers emotional/mental state.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If I understand you though @Coloma, you’re suggesting that a baby’s environment has no affect on them at all, unless it’s an extreme environment? If that’s what you’re saying, I disagree. The way a kid acts at 15 months is due, in part, to their environment.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Interesting link @SpatzieLover. I think we have an instinct to cooperate. It’s a big part of what makes us human.
Watching the twins is really interesting. I found that from early on, if Savannah took something of Kale’s and he started to cry, she’d try to give it back to him. Kale, on the other hand, if he take something of Savannah’s and she gets upset he just ignores her. He could care less!

ucme's avatar

Oh, okay, of course girl babies suckle on mama’s breast, I believe the latter part of my answer carries more weight though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just wonder if the boob attraction thing is really just a social construct (I always think of Simone Debovior (sp) when I use that term!) or if it’s some sort of instinct. I once read that humans are the only mammal to walk around with enlarged mammary glands so it looks like they’re always lactating.

I know you were joking, but if nursing causes a boy baby to have a thing for boobs as an adult, women who were nursed would have a thing for them too.

I used to say a boy baby is born…and then spends all of his adult life trying to get back in!

ucme's avatar

Well, not all the way in, that would be bloody terrifying.

Symbeline's avatar

especially if it was the same vagina that they came out of

ucme's avatar

#mothafucker #awombwithaview

Dutchess_III's avatar

ROFLOLLing!!

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’m just saying that innate personality type plays a large role, and as long as there is no oppressive parenting or abuse going on, much of a 15 month olds behaviors arises naturally, again, shyness vs. outgoing, exploring vs. timidity, etc.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree with that @Coloma. They’re born with basic personality traits that you can see from day one, especially with hindsight. However, when older kids act like brats all the time, that’s probably due to parenting. In some cases there can be other reasons, but in MOST cases it’s parenting.
I just wonder when that parenting starts rubbing off on a child, and at what age we can see it begin to manifest.

Judi's avatar

As a mom who was judged by the behavior of her children I have to say that that attitude is completely unhelpful and misinformed. I had to finally decide and declare that my children were their own people and responsible for their own decisions. I chose not to take blame for their failures or credit for their successes.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I said there are exceptions, @Judi. I know you were an exception. I’m sorry….I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I’m sorry.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Judi….I hope you’re hearing me. We’ve all seen kids who misbehave and their parents just ignore them, take no action, or scream obscenities at them. Those are the type of parents I’m referring to, not you.

Judi's avatar

No offense taken. I’m used to it. I’ve just learned not to judge. You never know what is really going on in someone else’s life.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks, Judi.

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