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Baby Development Baby Guide

Genetic and environmental influences on human development

How dominant are our genes?

In the question “Are certain characteristics inherited or educated in humans?” the researchers’ opinions differed widely: Just a few years ago, scientists were still of the opinion that appearance, talent, certain character traits, and behaviors are fixed in our genes, and the influence of education and our environment is not particularly important.

On the other hand were the psychologists and educators, who gave great importance to the influence of the family, friendships, and school.

Today geneticists, biologists, and educators are predominantly on the same line. Experts are now assuming that the genes and the environment influence each other in the development of personality and the training of abilities.

The new field of research, which deals with this interplay, is called epigenetics. Genes and the environment complement each other equally, can strengthen or weaken. Certainly fixed in our genetic material are invariable properties such as eye color, body size or blood group.

Is the talent put into the cradle?

A good example of the interaction of genes and the influences of our environment is found in sports or musical talents. Parents often feel a little genius in their children when they can play “All my ducklings” on the piano with three years.

But the greatest innate talent is of no use if this talent is not discovered early and is promoted accordingly. Differently, children who have not been brought into the cradle with a certain endowment can be successful with diligence, perseverance, and a portion of happiness in what they do.

But also certain weaknesses can be inherited, such as dyslexia or ADHD. Parents should not be content with these weaknesses, however, simply because they had to deal with these problems in their childhood.

Children can overcome these weaknesses in later life with appropriate support. According to experts, for the intelligentsia the general rule is that the more a child’s brain is stimulated, the better his or her biological potential can be exhausted.

Gender roles: innate or educated?

No matter how unprejudiced we want to educate our children, most guys prefer playing with cars, girls with their dolls. Boys love the competition, are wild and adventurous. Girls usually talk earlier, are often more adapted, go social with others and develop overall faster than the other sex.

But why is it like that? What influence do the genes have on the behavior of our children, what influence does education have?

These typical characteristics are a combination of our genes, hormonal influences and to a large part of our environment. Even if parents strive to educate their daughters and sons as best as they can gender-neutral, classical gender roles are often passed on unconsciously.

When the dad is always responsible for the craft work in the house, and the mother always prepares the food, these stereotypes are passed on to the children in everyday life. Children are also often stereotyped: parents are raging and challenging with their sons, with girls being talked or tinkered.

The gender roles are much more shaped by the pro-life in the family, friends, educators, and teachers than by our genes. We are by no means determined by our genes but can try out in all areas. For example, more and more girls are learning technical professions, while boys are interested in social professions.

What is certain is that boys and girls need enough space beyond all roll-out tables to be able to try out. Girls should be allowed to play with their dolls as well as on the football field. Boys can run wildly and need just as quiet cuddling phases to relax.

Parents should therefore always look after their children according to their strengths and abilities and not to roll-clichés.


  • Our genes do not define us
  • Genes and the environment influence each other
  • A talent must also be encouraged to be successful
  • Gender roles are often passed on unconsciously by the environment
  • Development through external influences and experiences is always possible
  • Promote children according to strengths and abilities

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