Genes do play a part in toddler tantrums, according to new study findings. But will it help you handle your toddler's meltdowns?
Whether it’s at home, during a play date or in the supermarket (sigh), tantrums and toddlers generally go hand in hand. And it could be down to genetics, suggests new research.
A study by Canada’s University of Montreal looked at 667 pairs of identical and non-identical twins, asking their parents to report back on their levels of physical aggression – things like hitting, biting, kicking and fighting – between the ages of nearly two and four years old. They then compared the results, taking into account shared or different environment and genetics.
While past thinking has been that environmental factors and role models are the main catalyst for naughty behaviour, the results showed that genes play a significant role.
‘Genetic factors always explained a substantial part of individual differences in physical aggression,’ says the University of Montreal's Eric Lacourse.
But, he also emphasised that the study isn’t saying difficult behaviour due to genetics can’t be tackled.
The study isn’t saying difficult behaviour due to genetics can’t be tackled
‘These genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable,’ he explains. ‘Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behaviour.’
But parenting coach Sue Atkins says, ‘If I’m honest, I still think parenting has a bigger role to play in your child’s behaviours than genetics.
‘It’s about setting boundaries, and is in everything from your body language to the tone of your voice. If you’re dealing with a toddler tantrum in the supermarket, for example, take a deep breath, visualise pressing your own mental pause button and take a physical step back from the situation to gain some perspective.
‘Don’t match his anger. Be firm, talk calmly and breath steadily – your child will see and respond to this.’
What are your tips for dealing with difficult toddler behaviour? Let us know below.