Hereditary Traits: What Kids Get from Parents

George Holden, psychology professor at SMU's Dedman College of Humanties and Sciences, talks about traits that parents pass on to children.

By Shelley Preston

My toddler thinks she can do anything—until she can't. “Mommy do it!” she demands, thrusting the offending object my way. Daddy also gets flustered quickly, like the time he let the f-bomb fly while fussing with three different TV remotes. Now our daughter has a new weapon to deploy when a video takes more than two seconds to load.
Did my daughter inherit his temperamental ways? Can parents pass on traits that aren't in the DNA, like sense of humor or style? Child psychologists say yes. It's called modeling, where a child learns by observation and imitation. And like the genes that provided our daughter's red hair and pixie nose, it contributes to who our kids become, says George Holden, Ph.D., a psychologist at Southern Methodist University and author of Parenting: A Dynamic Perspective. “When you observe a behavior in your child, ask yourself, ‘Where did that come from?’ In many cases for young children, it came from a parent.”...