Family is the primary source for children to learn behaviors. Children observe their parents or caregivers adhere to a certain lifestyle and, based on their observations, develop their own behavioral patterns. Therefore, it is important for families to foster healthy habits to set a good example. Otherwise, children risk developing dysfunctional health patterns, which will decrease their physical and mental well-being.
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There are several family characteristics that may contribute to dysfunctional health patterns. These characteristics come from various life areas, such as lifestyle, environment, culture, and biological, social, and psychological factors (Edelman et al., 2014). For example, lifestyle characteristics leading to dysfunctional health patterns include unhealthy habits, such as overeating, smoking, high sugar intake, and the choice of passive recovery instead of active rest. Biological factors include the family history of genetic diseases or congenital malformation, which should be addressed at the stage of pregnancy planning. Social and psychological characteristics include child neglect or abuse, low self-esteem of family members, and the use of physical punishment. In addition, parents’ inability to manage their emotions or resolve conflicts also takes a toll on children’s emotional and social development. Spiritual and cultural family characteristics contributing to dysfunctional health patterns include the rigidity of family values and a lack of using health-promoting techniques, such as meditation.
One more important characteristic is the family’s use of the healthcare system. The overuse or underuse of healthcare services may negatively affect the child’s well-being. Inappropriate use of healthcare resources, such as self-treatment or practicing alternative medicine, may not only contribute to the formation of dysfunctional health patterns but also undermine the child’s health. Thus, family characteristics significantly influence the formation of children’s behaviors. Unhealthy habits, poor communication among family members, and misuse of healthcare services, among others, comprise the family factors that lead children to develop dysfunctional health patterns, negatively affecting their well-being.
Edelman, C. L., Mandle, C. L., & Kudzma, E. C. (2014). Health promotion throughout the life span (8th ed.). Elsevier Mosby.