A few years ago, I spoke at a Lamaze class. During the talk, a pregnant woman named Ronnie told the class about her plan to have an “easy” child. She said, “I have two friends with young children. Angela has twin two-year-olds who scream and fight like little savages, but Lateisha’s child is an angel. I don’t want to make the same mistakes Angela did; I want my baby to be like Lateisha’s little princess!”
Anyone who has been lucky enough to spend time around infants knows that some babies are as gentle as a merry-go-round while others are as wild as a roller coaster! What makes some children so volatile and challenging? Was Ronnie right? Is an error committed by their parents, or are some babies just natural-born screamers?
Nature Versus Nurture: What Determines Your Baby’s Personality?
There’s an old story that as a boy handed his father a report card of all F’s, he lowered his head and asked quietly, “Father, do you think my trouble is my heredity … or my upbringing?”
For generations, people have debated what predicts a child’s temperament. Is it determined by his hereditary gifts (nature) or is personality gradually molded by one’s upbringing (nurture)?
A thousand years ago, baby experts believed temperament was transferred to babies in the milk they were fed. That’s why ancient experts warned parents never to give their baby milk from an animal or from a wet nurse with a weak mind, poor scruples, or a crazy family.
Today it is widely accepted that many personality traits are direct genetic hand-me-downs from our parents. For this reason, shy parents usually have shy children, and passionate parents tend to have babies who are little chili peppers.
Andrea was the spirited baby of Zoran, a former race-car driver, and Yelena, a mile-a-minute research psychiatrist. A real handful from the moment she was born, by two months of age Andrea shrieked her complaints almost twenty-four hours a day. As Zoran noted, “She’s as tough as nails, but what else would you expect? Two Dobermans just don’t give birth to a cocker spaniel!”
Let’s take a closer look at temperament and see why, even though it may contribute to colic, it’s not the main cause.