What a Difference Between Kids – Nature vs. Nurture

Nature or nurture – that’s a debate that has been going on forever. Are kids naturally one way, or is it because of how they are raised? Parents swear they raise their kids the same way, and yet kids are complete opposites in their reactions and behaviors.

This is so true with my own kids.

When CootieBoy gets in trouble and is sent to his room or had all electronics taken away for 24 hours, he rails against the injustice of it, claims I don’t love him, has sometimes shouted that he hates me, and then slams doors when he finally stomps up to his room to endure his horrific punishment, huge crocodile tears dangling in his eyelashes as he laments the 24-hour lack of electronics injunction I hand down. It’s ridiculous the histrionics that occur when he gets in trouble and suffers a consequence. I almost expect his head to spin around and pea soup to come shooting out of his mouth. Especially when the consequences are never that bad (it’s usually either a 24-hour loss of electronics or spending the rest of the day in his room and only coming out for meals). He never admits fault and always tries to blame external circumstances on why he got in trouble. It’s frustrating and something I hope he grows out of even as I try to teach him about personal responsibility.

There are no calm discussions with CB when he gets in trouble. He immediately becomes defensive, loud and belligerent. He claims I’m yelling at him even when I’m talking in a normal cadence. He’s very reactionary when he knows he’s in trouble.

On the other hand, this past week I found out that CootieGirl had not done her math homework for five days, and as a result her homework grade was hovering at 73% (a D). Her teacher emailed me to find out what was happening, and I told her I had no idea. I’ve been trying to be less invasive with CG’s homework – trying to teach her personal responsibility about getting it done and turned in. Apparently she’s not quite ready for 100% homework review independence.

When I got home from work I told her what I knew and asked her if she could show me her homework. Fortunately, she was already working on the two math sheets that were due the next day. I calmly told her how unhappy I was that she didn’t do her homework, and that her punishment would be to spend the rest of her day in her room and only come down for dinner. There was no yelling, no drama. We just talked about my expectations, how she didn’t meet them, and that there would be a consequence.

And that sweet, precious girl, knowing that she had done the wrong thing by not doing her homework, went up to her room without complaint and not only that – but had a good attitude about it. It was amazing to see, and I was really proud of her. She knew what she had done, and accepted the negative consequence without tears and drama (which is rare for a hormonal pre-teen.

Their diametrically opposed reactions to punishments astounds me, because presumably they’ve had the same upbringing with the same two parents their whole lives. Yes, their general personalities are different (nature), but surely our parenting will mold them into having similar reactions (nurture), right? Nope. I’m a firm believer in nature. It’s a natural instinct firmly embedded an in individual’s psychological makeup. No amount of nurturing will change it – or else CootieBoy wouldn’t have a stroke at the thought of his electronics being taken away for 24 hours (which, to him, is punishment worse than death itself).

What do you think? If you have kids, do they also react in completely different ways to the same situation, or are they similar in their behaviors?

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