By | August 14, 2014 9 Comments

For at-risk toddlers, warm parenting is best

mother with toddler sizedExperts now agree that sociopathy is at least partly genetic. That means any child born of a sociopathic parent may inherit a predisposition to the personality disorder.

Sometimes this predisposition can be seen in very young children who exhibit “callous-unemotional” traits. New research shows that  toddlers who exhibit callous-unemotional behavior may be helped by warm, loving parenting.

Warmer parenting makes antisocial toddlers more empathetic, on

This is the same advice Dr. Liane Leedom gives in her book, Just Like His Father? A guide to overcoming our child’s genetic connection to antisocial behavior, addiction and ADHD.

Here’s the bottom line: If you realize that you’ve had a child with a sociopath, the best thing you can do is be warm and loving to the child, especially during the toddler years. Harsh parenting, with an emphasis on discipline, makes at-risk children worse.


Posted in: Donna Andersen

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I’m delighted to read your latest post, and I agree with your research and perspective wholeheartedly.

Warm, stable parenting is critical.

Thank you for sharing.


H.G. Beverly

Yes. I have seen it. Warmly parented callous unemotional children become more seemingly amenable, more satisfied, and more covert, and therefore, less of a discipline problem.


UNTIL they leave home and enter the objective reality of getting a job and competing in the often-harsh “big world”.


I just have never seen these kids. I’ve seen spoiled brats but it’s easily traceable to bad/non existent parenting.
When I run into these kids, I just be firm (without arguing with them) and consistent and bam! After 3-5 times of interacting with me, they just dont bother being brats. They dont hit other kids, dont grab toys, dont stick their tongues out at me, dont whine about the food I made (without asking them what they want). They just act like the rest of the kids in the group.
I guess these callous toddlers exist but with today’s A.W.F.U.L.-what-passes-for-parenting used with kids, I just dont see the kids themselves as genetically defective. Maybe if we could get the parents to actually parent instead of ignoring and neglecting through overspending and threatening but never following thru and doing whatever the kid wants to shut him up and leve the parent alone, I could actually see the forest, but right now the trees is a-gittin in the way!
I wonder about nutritional deficiences too.


I haven’t personally come across any of these callous-unemotional small children either, but my guess is that is because (thank God) psychopathy is fairly rare.

But I did see a Canadian documentary called “Psychopath” and part of it included comments by several different psychiatric researchers and practitioners (including Dr. Robert Hare) regarding how disturbingly distinctive these behaviors are when you do come across them in a small child, and that (counter to what seems plausible) genetically-predisposed psychopathic children can come from any background or home: from very nurturing, “normal”, relatively mentally healthy homes, from appallingly abusive, negligent homes, and from everything in-between.

Here’s the link to the documentary on psychopathy (for some reason the first few seconds are missing):


i have come across some seemingly callous kids, but they are simply crying out for boundaries, structure and stability. also they are generally very neglected…biting another kid on the way to grabbing the toy gets them attention. and lots of it. parents have to interact with their kids. in great quantity. quality time is a myth.
please parents, include ur kids in ur daily life! in as much of it as is utterly possible.
dont give up with a headstrong child either. be the PARENT.


i keep forgetting we cant edit…i meant to put that any socioeconomic class of parent can neglect their kids. food and clothes and toys and lessons and outings are not a substitute for a human who is interested in the little person. poor parents can give the most important thing and rich parents can refuse to.
class mite make the 2 choices easier or harder but class never dictates the choice.


Psychopathic children are not the same as spoiled brats or neglected children or children lacking discipline.
A hallmark is lying and stealing, no matter what kind of discipline, warmth, limits, etc. the parents do. They continue to lie and steal when it suits them no matter what anyone else does.

They are children who can be very pleasant when it benefits them. They can be difficult,create chaos, suck up a lot of attention, drain their parents/caregivers.

Some are extremely sexually addicted in perverse and sadistic ways from a surprisingly young age. Some do very cruel things to animals and other children just for fun.
They are dangerous.


I once sat next to a little girl in a sushi restaurant that I felt creeped out by.

She stared me, even though she was just sitting in the next seat, then began to talk non-stop about how ugly I was, and ask me why I had ‘that thing’ on my face (it’s called a mole). If I would try to engage her, and shift the conversation, she would start in again, or shift the conversation to me getting her something (more ginger, more pop, etc). Her mother totally ignored her and talked to her friend. When I turned away the little girl took sushi off of my plate. She smiled at me with total malice. She was only about 4 or 5, and it was totally creepy.

After about 10 minutes of this I attempted to ignore her, only to have her start thumping her leg against my chair. When I asked her to stop she started crying, loudly, and her mother told her to shut up. Then she started in again, talking and talking.

After about another 5 minutes the man on the other side of me offered to change seats with me, and smiled so kindly. I switched seats. The kid totally ignored him, and ate her sushi.

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