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Home » Child Temperament: How We Start to Become Ourselves – David C Rettew (Transcript)

Child Temperament: How We Start to Become Ourselves – David C Rettew (Transcript)

Here is the transcript and summary of David C Rettew’s talk titled “Child Temperament: How We Start to Become Ourselves” at TEDxBurlingtonED conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


David C. Rettew – Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics

What I’d like to talk about today is making kids. Now, it’s not what you might be thinking about. This is a family show. Rather, what I would like to talk about are those amazing, adorable, and sometimes incredibly irritating traits that we call temperaments or personality.

Some kids are very quickly brought to feel anxious or angry, while other kids seem almost unflappable. Some kids love to be surrounded by noise and people and activity, while others prefer some quiet, maybe even some solitude. Some kids wear their emotions on their sleeves, while others, for others, you can’t even figure out how they’re feeling sometimes.

Where do these temperamental traits come from, and what, if anything, should we do about them? So from twin studies, we know that about 50 to 60% of child temperament comes from our genes. That sounds like a lot. That is a lot. However, that still leaves a lot of room for other influences, such as the environment.

And for a long time, there was a debate that went back and forth about whether it was nature or nurture that determined behavior. And now, for the most part, that debate is over. And I can tell you that the answer to the question of whether it is nature or nurture is yes. But the story doesn’t end there.

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