Pre-K Behavioral Problems Could Have Genetic Link


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It's sometimes seen that children who are sent to daycare or preschool begin to develop behavioral problems. Though parents might jump to blaming the setting or new experiences, a new study has shown that such children may be genetically predisposed to such problems.

The study, published this week in the International Journal of Behavioral Development, shows that genetically-inherited traits such as poor self-control may be contributing to behavioral problems seen in some pre-kindergarten children. This might mean that those children require different settings to give them a leg up before starting Kindergarten.

The study looked at 233 adopted children in the study. Genetic data was obtained from both the children and their biological parents. Those parents who reported having poor self-control and higher rates of negative emotions also had children likely to misbehave in child care or preschool. Those children were seen as lacking self-control and having anger issues. The effect on the children was seen to be "modest," despite researchers controlling for the disposition of the children's adoptive parents.

"We aren't recommending that children are genetically tested, but parents and caregivers can assess a child's needs and help them get to a setting that might be more appropriate," said Shannon Lipscomb, lead author of the study and a family sciences professor at Oregon State University. "This study helps us to explain why some children struggle so much with large peer groups and heightened social interactions. It may not be a problem with a teacher or parent, but that they are struggling on a biological level."