Behavior and Personality Traits among Young Children

If you thought “following the crowd” starts in middle and high school, a new study on childhood influences will surprise you. The findings show that preschoolers as young as three years old are highly influenced by their peers, usually for the good.

This psychology study comes from Michigan State University and dives deep into what affects the behaviors and personality of young children. As parents you may want to believe you are the biggest influence on your child and much of personality is innate, but it’s actually her peers that make a bigger impact, according to the research.

Behavior and Personality Traits among Young ChildrenConducted in a preschool environment, the study observed social networks and behaviors for an entire year. Researchers call personality traits “contagious” because the three and four year olds in the study were highly influenced by other children their own age.

Children who socialized with outgoing and hard-working peers were highly likely to adopt similar personality traits. However, children were not taking on negative personality traits like being anxious and easily frustrated.

You may observe similar results among your own young children. They process the behaviors of friends or siblings and start to incorporate them into their own personality. Personality traits play a large role in both short term and long term responses throughout your child’s life. Paying attention to the peers and friendships your little one gravitates towards may predict traits and behaviors they will display for years to come.

This is not to say that parents have no influence on their child’s behavior. Teaching right from wrong, patience, kindness, compassion and many other admirable qualities you want your child to possess is always a good idea. However, know that it is not you alone that will contribute to your child’s personality. This study highlights the impact that others will likely have on your child starting at a very young age.

Sources: Science Daily and The Bump