Positive Influence - Be the Waterfall
By Raymond Shipley
Genetic effects on temperament and personality are based in biology. When a child is born it becomes rapidly apparent what sort of personality they will develop. Some are fussy while others are no trouble at all. However, despite such a strong link to genetics, environmental conditions, specifically parenting style, can have a profound effect on personality.
Authoritative parenting has been linked to myriad positive effects on children. Loving, supporting surroundings that include high standards and expectations, enforced household rules and age appropriate autonomy are ideal environments. Children raised in such homes are more likely to be well-adjusted, likeable, content, energetic and self-assured. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that elementary school students whose parents promoted language development during toddler years are more likely to have an easier time in school. Abusive and overbearing parents, by contrast, often influence their children to become hostile toward peers.
There are several examples of the types of interaction that can positively influence children. Rewarding sought after behavior and disciplining negative has the effect of reinforcing proper demeanor and actions. Moreover, imparting new knowledge on various interesting topics contributes to the cumulative effect. Ignoring misbehavior has been linked to becoming more asocial, while showing genuine interest in a child's interests and activities equates to greater responsiveness.
One unavoidable dilemma with which even the best parents will inevitably come face-to-face is outside influence. Despite our best efforts, children will be exposed to others that have not shared in the same upbringing or hold the same values dear, and the effects of this can be readily seen early in a child's life. The key to combatting this is to overwhelm such vice with virtue. By being the best possible influence on one's own children it may be possible to dilute the negative of the surrounding world. Although it is impossible to protect our children from such adverse influence, it is possible to drown antagonistic ideals and habits in a tidal wave of virtue.
The saying goes "it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch." As true as this may be, it is also true that a waterfall starts with a single drop of water before becoming a majestic spectacle. The world is full of bad apples, and it is up to us to be the force that champions excellence.