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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 1, Lesson 3

Nature versus Nurture

Mother holding babyThe age old debate of nature versus nurture as a means to describe differences in child development still exists today. The underlying question of this debate is, whether genetic factors (nature) or environmental factors (nurture) are more important in determining child development. Nature refers to biological or hereditary information that affects child development and learning.

Nurture refers to the day to day interactions children encounter in their environment. In the previous lesson we discussed the dominant theories of child development, some of which were based on the premise of the influence of nature, while others were based on the influence of nurturing. The stance a theory takes on nature versus nurture is directly linked to its explanation of individual differences in child development. Some theorists emphasize heredity and characteristics remaining stable through the years and if environment is considered at all, it is thought that early experiences establish future patterns of behavior. Other theories stress that change is possible if new experiences are supported. Ultimately, if parents or other caregivers believe that development is largely due to nature, they would not be providing children with activities to stimulate change. If parents or caregivers believe in the importance of early experiences, they would provide stimulating activities at an early age.

If parents or caregivers believe that environment has a large influence throughout a child's life, then they would make sure children would have high quality experiences past their primary years into adulthood. Overall, the debate over nature versus nurture has created various ways to view child development. Following below are various nature and nurture influences on child development.


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