Childhood self-control pays dividends as adults

Dominion Post 26/01/2011
Self-controlled children grow up to be healthier, wealthier and more lawful adults, a new study has found. Skills such as conscientiousness, self-discipline and perserverance influence young children’s health, wealth and criminal history in later life, regardless of intelligence or social background, an Otago University study shows.
Richie Poulton, of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, and Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt, of Duke University in the United States and King’s College London, led an international team that found “the first hard evidence” of childhood self-control influencing adult lives. Using behaviour assessments, researchers evaluated the self- control of 1037 people born in Dunedin between April 1972 and March 1973 throughout their childhood, before examining their health, wealth and criminal history at age 32. Dr Moffitt, who spent a year in Dunedin, said children as young as three who scored low in self-control measures were more likely to have, as adults, physical health problems, substance dependence, financial- planning difficulty, credit and money-management difficulty, a child as a single parent and a criminal record.