In what way does a parent’s behaviour affect a child’s development (Parenting Advice)

In this guide, we will discuss “In what way does a parent’s behaviour affect a child’s development”. Children are like sponges and they learn everything from what they see from their parents, teachers or peers. However, as role models, our behaviour can impact positively or negatively our child’s development. No one says parents have to be perfect but it is important for them to be aware of how their behavior can affect the way their child perceives the world and behaves.

In what way does a parent’s behaviour affect a child’s development?

It is normal as a parent to ask ‘In what way does a parent’s behaviour affect a child’s development?’ and it is certainly not an easy question to answer because there isn’t just one factor that could affect their children, there are several. However, there have been studies such as the one from Grusec & Danyliuk (2014) of parents’ cognitions, beliefs, thoughts and feelings that seem to expand our knowledge of child development.

The child-parent relationship tends to be replicated depending on our history and experiences with our own parents. Think about how your parents influenced your life and who you are today just as Grusec & Danyliuk (2014) mention:

“Why do parents behave the way they do when raising children? One answer is that they are modelling the behaviour of their own parents, having learned how to parent in the course of being parented. Another is that they are behaving in accord with information about appropriate parenting acquired through books, Web sites, or informal and formal advice.” The truth is that no one is born a parent or no one knows what it means before becoming a parent so asking for advice is completely normal.

Parenting attitudes, specific beliefs, thoughts and feelings

They can influence behaviour even if parents are not aware at times. Consequently, changing parental behaviour can help parents have a positive impact on their child’s life. As many parents may think, school is not the only way children get to learn behaviours, attitudes and beliefs, forming their personality and character. It is believed that the biggest influence in a child’s life is their parents. 

The family environment is critical because it is where children spend most of their critical years. For instance, as parents, we may believe we are choosing something because ‘it is the best thing for my child’ such as going to a specific school instead of another or living in a certain neighbourhood. But how can we be so sure? We can’t ever be, something we say or do can affect a child’s behaviour.

Child Abuse

We know through different studies how parents that abuse their children cause great harm. Being abusive is not only limited to being physical or sexually abusive but also verbally. Unfortunately, some kids experience two or more types of abuse from their parents and many grow up trying to develop coping skills and trying to understand why they are being abused. 

If their own parents could not protect them, what can they expect from the world? Some kids that have been abused start displaying defiant behaviours and during their teenage years, they can even display a range of antisocial and destructive behaviours. Additionally, as a coping strategy, some kids start displaying risky behaviours and even alcohol and substance abuse to ‘numb the pain’.

Harsh parenting discipline strategies

Most of the time, to avoid losing control over the situation, we may start screaming and yelling to the child for them to comply or obey your rules or what we have asked them to do. However, we know from scientific evidence how screaming and yelling at a child can affect their brain development. Children who are constantly being yelled at are at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder, depression, low self-esteem, being aggressive and hostile, and other behavioural problems.

Additionally, if you tend to resolve problems with your partner by screaming at each other and even getting into a physical fight then children will certainly learn that is the way problems are supposed to be resolved. Children may often feel they are responsible for their parent’s arguments and may become very traumatizing for them. 

Praise good behaviour

We get it, you may lose your temper when your child does exactly the opposite of what you have asked them to. However, you may have noticed that no matter what you do, even screaming and yelling at them, doesn’t seem to work. Instead of punishing them all the time or having to yell 3 or 4 times in a row so they can actually listen to you, praise their good behaviour. 

For instance, if you need to yell at your child to pick up the toys from the living room after playing and one day he does that without you even having to tell him then, praise their good behaviour. But if it goes unnoticed and the next day they forget, you start screaming again they will interpret that there is no point for them to pick them up because no matter how they behave the outcome will be the same.

Avoid lashing out on your kids

We all have to deal with stress and difficult situations in life. For instance, financial issues, work problems, issues with your partner/spouse, etc. However, when dealing with our kids we seem more irritable and prone to say mean things we later regret. Know it is not them, personal circumstances are bothering us that will end up being our child’s fault anyway. If you are feeling down, stressed or frustrated, avoid interacting with your kid so taking a few minutes for yourself and to calm down would be ideal.

Find a place where you can be on your own, no distractions, no problems. It can be the bathroom if you like to take relaxing baths to calm down or it can be your room so you can take some time to meditate on your own. This will let you manage your emotions differently, having more self-control which is definitely something you would like to teach your child.

Why is this blog about In what way does a parent’s behaviour affect a child’s development important?

As we have discussed while answering the question ‘In what way does a parent’s behaviour affect a child’s development?’ We have mentioned that there is a broad scope, meaning there could be several factors related to parent’s behaviour that could affect their child’s development. Also, we are aware now that parents are the most influential figures on their children’s attitudes, thoughts, values, etc. Children are like sponges and they learn everything they see and hear from their parents because they are their role models.

Being a parent doesn’t mean you have to be perfect but you have a duty with your child and that is making sure he/she is safe and is growing in a nurturing environment. Your child learns how you deal with problems, how you interact with others and even feels responsible if you are having a bad day. Be clear with them, and explain to them what is happening. If you are having a bad day, just take some time for yourself and avoid lashing out on your children or if you have been using harsh parenting strategies try to implement positive reinforcement instead of always punishing your child.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about In what way does a parent’s behaviour affect a child’s development

How do parents influence their children’s development?

Parents can positively or negatively influence their children’s development.

Parents are role models to their children’s eyes so this is why they are always imitating behaviours that seem to be normal or accepted because their parents display them.

For instance, if parents model the behaviour of lying then children will also adopt this behaviour or when they scream to exert control or get what they want, children also learn to do this.

How does the family influence children’s Behaviour?

Families have a specific dynamism and set of rules. Parents can influence children’s behaviour and vice versa. Children can learn from their family the concept of morality or ‘what is right and wrong’, they will also learn certain behaviours displayed by their parents that they believe are normal or accepted. Additionally, if there is physical or verbal abuse, this will significantly impact a child’s behaviour.

How does a child’s relationship with their parents affect their character?

If a child has a hostile relationship with their parents, it will negatively impact their physical, emotional and social development. They could grow up with a lot of fears, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, insecurities, etc. 

How do personal choices affect child development?

Children can make choices based on the value judgement on whether something is right or wrong, socially accepted or not. For others, the influence comes from other peers depending on their culture or family values. Moreover, children can make personal choices based on instant gratification so not being able to have self-control and avoid doing things that feel good at the moment but they may regret later can affect their development (i.e. character, personality, etc.)

Who is the biggest influence in a child’s life?

Parents are usually the biggest influence in a child’s life but it can also be their caretakers or other relatives if they are under their care. Parents are not always aware that their child is learning from everything they do. Then we have teachers and the social context as a positive or negative influence in children’s lives.


Grusec, J.E. & Danyliuk, T. (2014) Parent’s Attitudes and Beliefs: Their Impact on Children’s Development. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. The University of Toronto.

Proaño, A. (2018, Aug.) Interview: Changing Parental Behavior with Behavioral Tools Can Help Children Reach Their Full Potential. Retrieved from

Erickson, R. (2018, Apr.) Parents’ Effect on Child Behavior. Retrieved from

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