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Children's bad behavior in school might be hereditary

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Bad behavior in preschool could be in the genes

Children who misbehave in preschool and at child care centers may be the victims of genes. Results of findings from Oregon State University investigators suggests kids inherit behavior problems from their parents.

Poor self control inherited from parents

Children who fail to learn at school and act out may do so because they've inherited poor self-control from their parents the researchers say.

The finding could explain why some pre-preschoolers are academic achievers and others struggle despite interventions from teachers and caregivers.

Shannon Lipscomb, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University-Cascades said in a press release: “Assuming that findings like this are replicated, we can stop worrying so much that all children will develop behavior problems at center-based care facilities, because it has been a concern."

She adds, "But some children (with this genetic predisposition) may be better able to manage their behavior in a different setting, in a home or smaller group size.”

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Lipscomb said you can't test genes for bad behavior, but it is possible to evaluate children by assessing their needs and moving them to a different setting where they are less likely to act out.

"It may not be a problem with a teacher or parent, but that they are struggling on a biological level, " she explains.

The study

For their investigation published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development the OSU researchers looked at data in 10 states that included 233 families.

They examined genetic data from birth and adoptive parents and children.

Based on genetic link, children of parents who reported anger issues and poor self-control were more likely to have behavior problems in preschool and child-care centers.

The finding would need to be replicated to prove a child's bad behavior in school is inherited.