Preschoolers with good self-control have a better chance of growing up to become healthy, wealthy and crime-free. Here are 8 simple ways teachers can improve children’s self-control – and make classrooms more harmonious.
You may have heard of the well known marshmallow test – the Stanford University experiment that discovered young children who could show restraint in the face of temptation tended to do better in school and, later, in life.
Now a pioneering long-term study has confirmed that self-control is a key to future success.
The study, which has followed the lives of every child born in the New Zealand city of Dunedin in 1972-73, found that children with more self-discipline are more likely to be healthier and wealthier as adults, and less likely to be involved in crime.
“Our 40-year study of 1,000 children revealed that childhood self-control strongly predicts adult success, in people of high or low intelligence, in rich or poor.”
The good news is that even small improvements in self-control can make a big difference to adult outcomes. And the best time to make those improvements? When children are at preschool.
Professor Terrie Moffitt, part of an international team of researchers who analysed the findings of the Dunedin study, says children who had low self-control when tested at the age of three were more likely as adults to have:
- health problems
- financial problems
- trouble managing their money
- a criminal record.
Signs to watch for:
Problems for children with poor self-control started to show when they were teens. Many started smoking early, had an unplanned baby and left school with no qualifications.
However, Professor Moffitt says children whose self-control improved over time tended to have better lives as adults than initially predicted.