In discussing behavior problems, particularly in school-aged children, it is important to note that the age-old argument about nature versus nurture is clinically counterproductive. Children’s behavior reflects the interaction of their temperament and inherited personality, the history of their experiences, and the particular nature of each situation. In most circumstances it is impossible to determine what proportion each of these elements contributes to a given manifestation. Likewise, the proportions are likely to vary from child to child and even from situation to situation in a single child. Although it is difficult to modify children’s personalities,it is possible to modify behavior by identifying and correcting adverse situations in the environment and by introducing appropriate interventions. Previous experiences cannot be changed, but if adverse environments can be corrected early, there is a greater possibility of preventing or diminishing their impact.

Identifying adverse situations, such as child abuse or neglect, marital discord, or...

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