Monday, January 16, 2012

Did I Teach you that?

Many of you know I am attending the University of Phoenix to get my associates degree in psychology. I confess I am writing this to make you stop and ask yourself what do I believe and why? I am loving the classes I must say and just beginning to learn all the sub fields of psychology and the characteristics that fall into those sub fields. This past week the discussion of behavior was introduced in our discussion forum. Many feel we are born to act the way we do while others believe our behavior is a learned trait we pick up on as we grow and mature. Before I continue stop now to decide what you believe and get a few reasons to support your belief. I am going to be upfront and tell you that my opinion may be proved wrong as these classes advance but at the present I believe our behavior is learned. Here is the reasoning for my choice.

We are all born with the basic instinct to survive. Past this instinct I believe our environment teaches us our behavior. When you look at a family you may make the comment that a child acts exactly like another family member. Some would argue this is a genetic trait passed from the parent to the child but I believe it is traits the child learns from parent interaction and their family environment. Someone may also see a family with adopted children or a blended family composed of a step parent and make the same comment despite the fact that the children are not biological offspring. During the early years of my life I was taken care of by my mother's parents. I was a very difficult child during this time. I had tantrums, would fight authority figures, made terrible grades, and did as I pleased despite what discipline my grandparents attempted. The summer of my 4th grade year I moved in with my mother and my chosen father. The hint implies that my daddy is my daddy with or without the DNA and paper trail. During this time my behavior went through what I would refer to as an overhaul. I learned quickly that my mother demanded nothing less than respect, if I hit her she spanked, if I did not bring home A or B report cards I would lose privilages and had to write book reports in the subject I failed, and that my room was my responsibility to take care of and keep clean. The transition from a (for lack of a better word) hell raiser to a disciplined child was not easy but it was learned over the years. I became a much milder child who respected authority figures and acted with manners. I still had a fit ever now and again but I learned how to better control my anger and deal with my feelings. Today many people make comments about how much like my mother and father I act. I smile and say thank you knowing that the traits I picked up from my dad are strictly learned behavior because there is no link otherwise. I make a lot of statements that sound like him, I have many of his actions, and as a friend once told me my dad and I are the only two people that he knows who stands with our knees locked. From my own life experience I have gathered that behavior is what you are taught by your parents. You learn behavior by what boundaries you are allowed to push and how much length you are given on your chain to run. I am happy to say that at 8 years old my son does not act anything like I did. He has made wonderful grades since he began school and is well mannered. He was taught early in life that hitting and trying to run the household would not be permitted. Since he learned this early it has not been a problem for my family as it was for my grand parents.

When you were asked to choose if behavior was learned or genetic which did you choose? Did the opinion change after reading this post why or why not? I look forward to seeing what others think on this subject and why, so please leave your own outlook on the subject.


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