Why does most of the learned behavior in childhood goes away when you are a adult?

A dad

Active Member
For example when I was a child I had to make my bed every morning. Now years and years after I became a adult I make my bed only when I change the sheaths.
Again when I was a child I learned to share the food now I do not care if there is something I like to eat well I am gonna eat it no matter if someone else wants. I have a lot of arguments with my wife on this but yeah I still do not like to share what I like.
Makes my wonder seeing my oldest son how impolite he become from being polite with anyone especially his elders now he is quite aggressive and arrogant. I wonder why does not all behavior learned as children does not stick with us as adults. Thinking about it its positive and good behavior yet as adults its gone.


Well-Known Member
A Dad, this is my take on things.

As children we are dependent. Most everything we are and have depends upon the adults in our lives. When we become teens and young adults we have to separate, emancipate, from our status as protected young. Sometimes separating is tough. I think that is one reason why young people act so obnoxious and contrary. They act so that we will reject them. They want to test us. To see if we still love them. They also want us to push them away, so that they can grow up. Even when they are not sure they want to.

We become adults we feel we can choose to be who we are, who we want to be. At least to some extent. Hopefully we become able to live with intention according to our values, and taking responsibility for our our choices. If we want to eat and not share, we can. We pay the bills. Why not?

I think sometimes we keep the behaviors we learned as children. Sometimes not. I for one was taught to be a little domestic servant. Ironing, vacuuming, you name it. My significant other does most of the housework, except for wash and dishes. I cook and bake. I want to begin doing more housework, but the tyranny of having to do so much of, under duress, takes away any pleasure from that work. Actually, I get very anxious and I panic. I never feel like I am doing it right. As I do housework I feel as if I will be punished any minute--and it is me who is doing it.

Very interesting thread, A Dad.

Thank you.

What are your ideas about why we give up useful or proactive behaviors as adults?


A dad

Active Member
There are no consequences for not doing the useful or proactive behavior. So what happened when I was a child if I did not shared the food well I was punished.
What happens now?
Well nothing there is no higher authority that can punish me or give me consequences if I do not share. I do have arguments with my wife about this but in the end it does not not go further then that.
What happened with my oldest if he was impolite well he got punished so there where consequences but now as a adult well there are none since there is no authority that can give him consequences if he was impolite.
See we got artificial consequences as children but as adults some do not exist because nobody had the authority to give you those consequences.
Of course some that exist like consequences of you steal or do anything against the law. There where consequences and there still are at a lesser extent if you are lazy and do not work like you do not get to eat or have a roof over your head if you are dirty and do not wash people are gonna avoid you and other that society gives us.
But things like being impolite while there where consequences before for that things changed and it became a tolerated thing.
So for example why did my parents wanted for my to make my bed and share. Well it was because they wanted things clean and tidy and because there was not enough food to satisfy everyone appetite. Those where the issues of the environment I lived in so I had to abide by those rules or there where consequences by people why had authority now.
Now I do not like being tidy and there is enough food to satisfy everyone well if you get to eat before I do or else only after we replenish the food. And also I do not have anyone above me.
I think all of us when we reach adulthood and see that there will not be any consequence if we do not respect certain behaviors we will stop doing that behavior. Its nice if it becomes a thing we do just because we want to do but not every thing we learn becomes such a thing.


Well-Known Member
interesting conversation.

As a kid in our house, we were taught nothing about manners, giving or any useful life skills. Discipline was yelling but no follow through.

I learned these things as an adult and from other people, not my family. It was harder for me to learn as an adult, but I certainly did not repeat it with my iwn kids.

I believe that we willfully disregard what we learned as children. With me, I needed lots of therapy

Great topic.


Well-Known Member
Children do not learn what we "teach" them. They learn what they see lived before them. Including hidden attitudes that WE think they don't see. If you made them share but didn't love sharing yourself, they got the message that it wasn't a good thing to do in real life. If you were made to be neat and tidy but your parents didn't love making things that way, you learned that being neat and tidy is a chore, and as an adult, you don't see the value.

I learned from example to do things for others - little things, unexpected things. A few cookies on a co-worker's desk. A fancy apron from an unusual store for a friend who loves to cook and loves aprons. Not as birthday or Christmas presents - just "because". It has far more impact (in my opinion). But I also learned from example that "cleaning up" was something you did because company was coming, not as a way of life. I don't like living with the mess, but I never learned to enjoy the process.

Just my opinion, of course.


Well-Known Member
I learned from example to do things for others - little things, unexpected things.
IC, I always figured you were a kind soul.

IC, I was not taught to do anything nice for anyone, not even within my family. But I wanted to do those things anyways and always have.

I believe, and I may be wrong, that some things we learn as children and some we just inherently like to do. Not sure why. Genetics from a throwback? Generosity was not a part of my family dynamics yet it has always been a big part of my life.Trust me, I have negative traits too!!!

Again, thanks for a thoughtful, interesting conversation. Waiting for my kids to arrive and reading my favorite board!!!


Well-Known Member
I wasn't implying that we don't learn as adults... just that the things we carry forward from our childhood tend to come from positive consistent messages - not from punishment, or from "do as I say but not as I do". To that base, we add what we choose, usually based on observation or trying things and getting positive feedback.


Well-Known Member
I believe that, as adults, we keep the behaviors that were modeled for us, not necessarily doing what we were told to do.

For example, Miss KT was horribly rude to me and even worse to Hubby during those awful teen years. Disobeying, lying, other inappropriate behaviors, and I truly wondered how she would be as an adult. She was lazy, never cleaned anything (including herself for a time), her room needed a bulldozer to clean up after she moved...

Now, at 24, she picks up stuff she knocks over in the store and puts it back (I was in retail management and had fits when someone knocked something down and then walked over it). She refuses to talk on her cell phone while checking out of a store, because (she says) I used to say how rude it was to those people punching a register who are trapped dealing with jerks all day. She worked through college and has continued to further her career, quite unlike her father whom I refer to as Useless Boy.

She saw what I did and internalized that, even during the time she hated my guts and threatened to kill me in my sleep (I believed her and did not sleep at night for two years). When the crisis point came, she was 16 and I sent her to live with my mother. After nine months there, she had improved considerably.

My point here is that, similar to what IC said, the consistently modeled messages are the ones that stick, not the "rules" given that no one seems to follow.