Parents Should Chill Out

By Lee Anna Sherman

Toddlers whose parents anger easily tend to throw more tantrums and become upset, a new study shows. Looking into the nature-versus-nurture question long debated in childrearing, researchers found a clear link between over-reactive parenting and negative emotions in young children.

“You set the example as a parent in your own emotions and reactions,” says researcher Shannon Lipscomb at OSU-Cascades. “Parents’ ability to regulate themselves and to remain firm, confident and not over-react is a key way they can help their children to modify their behavior.” Genetics, however, does play a role, Lipscomb and her colleagues found. Children may remain at risk for negative emotionality as an inheritance from their birth parents, despite being raised in low-stress adoptive homes.