How Childhood Experiences Impact Adult Behavior

We’re always told that it’s not too late to change who we are and that no matter how old we get, we can still improve ourselves, but is that actually true? Largely, no, it’s not. Most scientists agree that by the time a person reaches 30 years old they’re fully mature and will – generally speaking – find it hard to change their personalities because by this stage, their personality is pretty much fully formed. That’s why it’s harder for older people to learn new skills because their brain is fully grown and their ability to retain new information is lowered.

What this means is, the habits and demeanors you forge in your childhood and teenage years are imperative as an indication to the person you’re likely to become. There have been various studies conducted on this topic spanning many different traits, some of which you might be more familiar with than others. In this article, we’re going to explore how childhood habits impact adult behavior in every capacity.

Lifestyle Choices

Scientists have established a link between how being a conscientious child can increase the likelihood of a person exhibiting healthier habits in later life, and vice versa. For example, a child who is conscientious (diligent, punctual, well behaved and rule abiding) is far less likely to grow up to develop smoking habits, engage in unprotected sex, drive dangerously or exhibit violent behavior.

Academic Success

How a person performs academically can be attributed to a range of factors, including how stable and nurturing their home life is from infancy. Children who grow up in supportive and emotionally safe homes are more likely to grow up to get a higher degree and perform better academically than their peers who did not have the same support and stability growing up.


Whilst breaking the rules as a child makes a person more likely to exhibit unhealthy lifestyle habits as an adult, it can have a somewhat positive effect. Researchers found that children who are defiant and regularly go against their parents wishes and rules are more likely to go on to earn more than their agreeable peers. This is because agreeable children grow into agreeable adults and tend to do what they’re told without question, whilst defiant children grow into adults who are more likely to defend themselves and stand up for themselves, often resulting in a better salary.


Children who grow up experiencing emotional neglect are far more likely to struggle as adults, and this can and commonly does impact adult relationships. People who, as children, were offered no support from their parents or who didn’t have a loving home (such as orphaned children) growing up typically struggle to show emotion in later life, and this spells bad news for relationships.

They might get into the habit of keeping their feelings to themselves and putting up walls in a bid to protect themselves from potential hurt, and this means relationships tend to be short-lived and lacking in depth. This can be problematic and highlights how important it is for parents to allow their children to express their emotions. In cases where parents are absent, donating to appeals to help children have access to a stable home and emotionally supportive guardians is essential if they’re going to be able to forge meaningful relationships in later life.


In summary, the type of adult a child grows up to be depends largely on their childhood experiences. It’s not news that children tend to grow up to be mirrors of their parents (not always), but the extent to which childhood experiences penetrate adult life in terms of romantic relationships, academic and career success, and lifestyle choices if more far reaching than most people tend to think.

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