How Much Genes Affect Child Development?
Genetics play a significant role in an individual’s full potential, development and even destiny. But it’s not all there is and early childhood experiences can actually override heredity and have a much influence on a child’s physical and cognitive development.
How much genes affect child development
During the children’s early years, their brains are highly responsive to their environments and experiences. This level of responsiveness can even make certain genes switched on or off as children further grow and develop. As a result, their early experiences and the environment they’re in can have lifelong impacts to their brains and bodies.
In other words, “it’s not yet set in stone.” As parents, we have a huge role in influencing what kinds of experiences our children can gain during their early years. We also have a lot of work to do when it comes to making sure our children are in a favourable and supportive environment. With a favourable environment and positive experiences, we can help further enhance our children’s innate advantages and even possibly turn off their disadvantages if there’s any.
For decades researchers have been talking about the Nature vs Nurture approach. Genetics still indeed play a significant role in our development and “destiny.” However, the hereditary advantages we might have may not manifest or be taken advantage of in the first place. For example, if a child is gifted and has a natural aptitude in mathematics, the gift might still be wasted if it’s not further nurtured through the succeeding years. Other children of the same age can catch up and that “gift” will seem just a common trait.
As parents we have to work on both the experiences and environment if we want our children to attain a healthy development. When it comes to genes, there’s not much to do (wait for advanced gene editing to work and go mainstream first). For now what we can do is to put our child in a positive home and learning environment as well as make it all fun for our children.