This article in Newsweek talks about how research is finding there are differences in how children respond to parental methods, and at least some of it is in their genes.
This isn't really new news, as even Newsweek notes. There have been studies for quite a while indicating that genes have a profound influence on behavior, and on responses to certain types of behavior. Some genetic profiles (such as the dopamine receptor profiles that relate to personality and temperament) seem to be less responsive to the environment of the family over time, while other genetic conditions (like genetic tendency to anxiety/depression) are quite responsive to parental and family interventions.
But back to the Newsweek article. One of the main bits of research they point to (which they don't give good references for, much to my annoyance) is that 30% of the population has a dopamine process genotype that reduces the effect parents can have on their child's outcomes. They note that this is the easy baby who is equally impervious to negative experience as to positive shaping. This is the teenager who drives their parents nuts because they just do not seem to learn from their mistakes. They don't have that pit-of-stomach-dropping I-will-never-do-THAT-again reaction to negative experiences.
Now, this may seem like a bad thing - certainly annoying. And definitely not a happy think-forward if one had one of those easy, peaceful, no-problems babies (and even worse if people have annoyingly said, 'Just wait until they're teens!' - yes, the comeuppance may show up later, but at least maybe you can watch for it if you know it is coming?). But at the same time, these kids don't over-learn from the slightest parental mistake, the good may slide right off them, but the bad slides right off, too. They don't have to go through that next round of development and re-learn another layer of better experience/response/parenting, they didn't really soak up the first layer! These are maybe the kids who survive when there's a catastrophe, they're our genetic fallback position, the kids who might not have much ambition or know quite what they want to do or what they do not want to do... but they do have the ability to get by, get along, not carry all the crisis with them maybe. I assume they'd be the ones less prone to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well - though that's just a guess.
And with almost 1/3 of the population expressing this gene, and even those not expressing it having some range of normal on the dopamine responses, we can maybe look at the picture our own family presents differently. If there's that one kid who just DOES NOT LEARN when bad things happen, then... well, at least maybe we can say they're not just stubborn, or willful, but maybe just less responsive to that brain chemical. They might need a different answer, a more structured way of tying their goals to their choices, without too much fussing about whether they've had a chance to fall on their behinds - because falling on their behinds makes little to no difference.
And maybe if you have one of the other end of the spectrum, a child who reacts to even the slightest negative as a gut-wrench, treating it as a genetic sensitivity to dopamine levels may help illuminate why 'what everyone recommends' just does not work. Letting them fail becomes a crisis, coaching has to be on a smaller scale with fragments of tasks instead of big picture items, maybe.
The range and variety of genotypes just plays in even more to what I firmly believe - that due to our complexity as humans, the relationship between parent and child will have only very general overlaps from one to the next, and the details and specifics are going to vary. Treating that as a valid place to start, genetically, also allows for some freedom to apply 'as-works' and 'as-needed' methods to the individual child's growth and development. And because some traits are indeed responsive to methods and environment, regular assessment and re-evaluation of methods, refusing to be locked into just one way (but following the trends associated with the big-picture results), all makes perfect sense. From the very far ends of the spectrums of disorders (genetic-origin autism, say), to the small decimal places (a child somewhat more prone to novelty seeking), how we parent is part of an interaction with the child's expressed genotype.
My caveat is that it takes some sensitivity to make sure we're not just doing what works for us, but what works for the child. For me, that means looking for the 85% solution, not the 100% one. When I get to 100% instant success, I've usually crushed something. Or someone. "It almost always works" or "it works most of the time" allows for that range of experience, input, mood, situation, context, and all the other factors that move my child from their usual function range. So that's where I aim. And then adjust and try again, because I don't get it right without tweaking (okay, seldom - it has happened, and it usually a surprise!).
It ends up being an ongoing discovery process, learning who we are, learning who our child is, discovering what they need as they develop, applying what we think works, and the next day getting up and trying again.