What predicts a child’s success in measures of health, wealth, family and criminal status? Is education the only most important predictor?
According to the study led by Avshalom Caspi and his colleagues (study), self-control is the most important predictor of a child’s success in measures of health, wealth, family and criminal status.
The study followed 1,000 children from birth to age 32 in Dunedin, New Zealand.
They were evaluated every two years from ages 3 to 11 to create an overall self-control score based on lack of control, hyperactivity, lack of persistence, impulsive aggression, impulsivity and inattention.
Later on the researchers collected data on the participants health, wealth, family and criminal status when the participants reached age 32. They then looked for a relationship between self-control score and the child’s success based on the data collected.
As a result the researchers found that children with a low self-control made more mistakes when they were adolescents; for example, smoking tobacco, leaving secondary school with no qualification, becoming a teen parent of an unplanned baby.
Looking at 500 non-identical twins, they found that the sibling with a lower self-control had a greater probability of poor school performance, smoking tobacco and showing signs of antisocial behaviors.
Does this mean that all of us could benefit from improving our self-control? According to an email sent to Discovery news by Caspi and colleages, the answer is YES. They said that they tried putting self-control against other different predictors but found that self-control was a better one.
Good parenting is also a co-factor in improving a child’s self-control. Keep in mind that improvements may vary from child to child.
Hey grown-ups, do not feel left out. There may still be some hope as improving self-control over time can have a better performance as adults.