Keywords: Parenting styles, child’s character, human behavior, attachment issues, adverse childhood experiences, Peer influence, Nigeria.

Introduction.

Parents/Peers Influencing Child’s Behaviour – Nigeria. Between the parents and the peers, who influences the child’s character the more?   

Parents are not the only source of influence on children’s characters. Children’s characters are also influenced by peers, schools, teachers, religious leaders, television, etc. But parental influence has an upper hand. Let’s see how Parents/Peers Influencing Child’s Behaviour – Nigeria.

Character is actually an aspect of someone’s personality and it includes moral values. But character is developed gradually through learning and experiences. And character is actually influenced by biological and environmental factors.

We all know the meaning of parents, but not everyone knows what peers stand for. A peer group comprises of individuals or persons who share certain characteristics and interests. They are more likely to share age, social background and status, etc.

What are the biological factors that influence child’s character?

1. Genetic factors:

These are factors inherited from parents. These play a great role in forming character. It is important to note that the environmental factors can determine if a genetic trait will manifest or not. But also genetic makeup can also have influence on the environment. 

2. Other biological environmental factors:

These include issues in pregnancy and delivery, which can affect the child’s developing brain. They can also include traumas in childhood. The risk of these are quite high in Nigeria.

Environmental factors that influencing human behaviors.                                              

The environmental factors that can influence the formation of character include attachment issues. They also include parenting issues, cultural factors and peer group issues. Research documents that family is the most influential in the character development of the child. It also states that peer are highly influential.

A. Attachment issues.

Attachment is an emotional tie between a child’s primary caregiver and the child. Most often, the primary caregiver is the mother.

Attachment phase starts at the last three months of pregnancy when the baby is still in the womb. And it lasts through out the first 1 to 2 year after birth of the baby. But for some, it can extend up to 3 years.

There is secure and insecure attachments. Attachment to parents is very critical to the formation of moral values and conscience. And adolescents, who have secured attachments to their parents, are less likely to become delinquent.

B. Parenting issues.

1. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs):

Early life experiences such as physical, psychological abuse and neglect, as well as sexual abuse can cause irreversible brain damage. This can affect behavior permanently.

Research has shown that adopted children from parents who are stable and brought into a dysfunctional home, will become delinquent. So an adopted child into a dysfunctional home has 3 times risk of being a criminal.

2. Parental roles in child’s behaviour:

In the Holy Bible, parents are given the role in training the child in the way that the child should follow.

Early childhood is the best time to socialize children. And this is one of the roles of parenting. Family is the primary agent for child socialization.

Research has shown that there are connections between parental behaviors and child’s negative behavior at home and outside. So if parents have good character, the child will imbibe it. The role of the father and mother is the most important thing needed in child character building.

3. How parenting styles affects child’s behaviour:

a. Previous parenting styles –

This includes authoritative parenting. Here there are clear rules and directives and communication is key. This type of parenting predisposes to good character formation.

Then the authoritarian parenting. Parents make demand of high obedience to rules and there is no open communication. This type of parenting can lead to negative social behaviors.

The permissive parenting. The parents make few demands from the child and they provide little direction for the child. Permissive can predispose to child delinquency.

And neglectful parenting. They are not responsive and not demanding of their child. This can predispose to substance abuse and other externalizing behaviors with the child.

b. Parenting in the 21st century:

With the changing times, parents are becoming more involved with their children. And parenting styles are being modified, changed or remain the same. For example there are the Hyper parenting styles. These include:

Helicopter parenting –

These parents over protect their child and even do problem solving for the child. It is also known as over parenting. For example, a parent will ensure that his or her child cheats with answers during exams in any way possible. Some Nigerian parents will stay by the windows as their children take common entrance examinations. This will enable them provide answers to the questions for their children. Some parents will pay teachers and invigilators to aid their children during exams.

Helicopter parenting also over protects the child from having freedom to go out with friends. In Nigeria in these days of insecurities, parents become over protective. So the parents excessively monitor the children.

Helicopter parents make inappropriate strategies to ensure that the child succeeds or is safe. This prevents the child’s independence and assuming responsibilities in different spheres of life. It makes the child have a sense of entitlement, believing that others should solve his/her problems. This can cause social anxiety and hostility on the child. The child will not be able to be independent in adulthood and the academics may not get any better.

Helicopter parenting is actually a form of authoritarian and permissive parenting. But these parents are too concerned and intrusive into the child’s educational future and safety.

Tiger parenting –

They impose a very strict control on the child, and use very harsh disciplinary measures. These parents want their child to succeed by working very hard. The child has no free time to play. They use shaming method to promote success and they want an exceptional child. Even though they are loving and warm, they do not care about the child’s emotions. They do not engage in communication with child.

Although this can encourage hard work in the child. But it can cause social anxiety, low self esteem and depression, even though the child may succeed. Some of these children may end up with low academic achievements. They may also become perfectionists. Tiger parents combine authoritarian and helicopter parenting.

C. Cultural factors.

Parents aim to ensure that their children are competent members of the society, via parenting methods. Culture can also shape the parenting methods to be used.

So authoritative parenting is more practiced among the western cultures. This is because the western cultures tend to promote personal development and independence.

Authoritarian parenting is seen more in none western cultures, where communalism is practiced. It is seen more in Nigeria because of the practice communalism. There is an adage that says that it takes a community to raise a child. But unfortunately, the communalism is eroding. The extended family system is eroding. Thus the practice of authoritarian parenting without protection from the extended family becomes quite disastrous.

But parenting practices changes with socioeconomic and political structure, as well as technology. So parents tend to push children harder in a society that places much value on education, like Nigeria. Thus with income inequality and too much emphasis on education, parents are over parenting. This is done in an effort to manage the uncertainties that may arise. Parents stressed by economic factors can disrupt parenting.

Also, with the rising incidence in kidnapping and other forms of dangers, parents are tending to be more controlling. So they can use helicopter parenting more.

Family structure can also affect parenting. For example, marital stress can affect parenting.

D. How does peer group affect behavior?

The peer group serves as information, feedback and support group. It gives children the opportunity to discuss, experiment, etc. Peer group helps the adolescent socialize, reinforce or punish behaviors.

It also helps to increases self confidence and reinforces good behavior. But some peer groups can pressure the adolescents into negative behaviors, such as substance abuse and risk taking. This is called peer prrssure.

But then, children’s behaviors are affected by what they learnt from their parents. So if parents teach their children how to empathize, the children will be more considerate with their friends’ feelings.

The relationship between parents and child can reduce or increase the influence peer groups give. Even parental monitoring of the child’s activities and knowing who the friends are, can protect the child against peer pressure.

Young adolescents already at the risk of delinquency from parental upbringing, are more likely to imbibe negative influence from bad peer groups.

Adolescents, who grew up from parents with strong moral values, tend to have good moral values. And they are more likely to associate with peer groups with good moral values.

Concluding aspects of Parents/Peers Influencing Child’s Behaviour – Nigeria.

In the issue of Parents/Peers Influencing Child’s Behaviour – Nigeria, it can be seen that parental influence is more. This is because parental influence starts when the child is still in the womb, through the attachment period, etc. This parental influence continues with the child from the home and even after he or she has left the home. Strong peer influence occurs much later, during the adolescent age. By this time, the parents have already established a strong hold on the child, either positive or negative. And at this adolescent age, water just finds its level.

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