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Do childhood experiences determine behavior in later life?
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Early year parent-child relationships influence future academic performance

The relationship that a parent develops with their child within their early years, and the environment in which the child grows up, has been shown to influence their academic development.
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The Argument

Irrespective of whether we have vivid childhood memories or not, the years we spend growing up may have a greater influence on our adult behaviour than we think. Psychologists have had a longstanding interest in child development, with longitudinal studies shedding light on how the influence of childhood experiences manifest in adulthood. K. Lee Raby led a study on the effect of childhood upbringing on adult life by following the life of 243 individuals from birth to age 32.[1] The researchers identified that positive academic development in later years, measured by performance on standardized tests, was greatly influenced by how parents interacted with their children on an emotional level leading up to the age of 3. A supportive home environment in which parents positively and actively interacted with their child and allowed the child to explore their environment was a common factor among those who performed well academically throughout the 32 years. The results suggest that academic excellence not only correlates with a willingness to learn but also a high-quality parent-child relationship developed during infancy, in which the child received adequate emotional attention and support. That said, while this dependency exists, it only accounts for 10% of academic achievement. Given that the remaining 90% is explainable by other factors such as experiences after age 3 and genetics, we can conclude that childhood experiences influence adult behaviour to some extent. That is not to say that adult behaviour, such as academic performance, is wholly determined by early life experiences. [2]

Counter arguments

The study led by Lee Raby shows that emotional support and care that a parent gives a child is only one of the many influences on adult behaviour. A positive parent-child relationship accounts for only 10% of academic achievement in later years. Consequently, there is a greater chance that other factors, such as experience later in life, and even chance could be the reason why an individual excels academically. That said, we can doubt whether the parent-child relationship within the first 3 years is truly influential in adulthood at all.


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 28 Sep 2020 at 10:55 UTC

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