Children who have more self-control later experience more financial and social success according to a new study.
Our behavior during childhood influences our adult life. An international team of researchers suggests that the degree of self-control in childhood influences success later in life. In their article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the group describes how self-control during childhood correlates with better health, success, and stability later in adult life.
Better health in adulthood for children with better self-control
The question the researchers are asking themselves is: how well do children with self-control problems cope when they get older? To find out, they studied 1,037 children, born between 1972 and 1973 in New Zealand, all included in a longitudinal study when they were between 3 and 11 years old. They evaluated the self-control of the children by talking to their parents, teachers, and the children themselves. Each child was categorized according to characteristics such as their impulsivity or the ease with which they felt frustrated when working on projects and whether, despite their frustration, they followed up on such projects.
Decades later, researchers revisited the children who were then 45 years old. Each of them was interviewed and tested in different ways to find out how their lives turned out. The researchers found that children with a high degree of self-control are on average better than children with a low degree of self-control. They also showed fewer signs of brain aging and were healthier.
Concentration on education to improve self-control
The researchers found that the group with the higher self-control did better financially and socially. They also found that children with problems with self-control regardless of IQ level and social status were on average less successful in achieving standardized life goals than those who showed better self-control as children. Researchers suggest that a greater focus on teaching children with self-control problems to improve their control skills could lead to an improvement in the quality of life.