The Dunedin Study: The Vital Importance of “Self Control” in creating Positive Life Outcomes, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Continuing  our series of articles on findings discovered by the “Dunedin Longitudinal Study”…

Among the most important and hopeful findings of The Dunedin Study is that there is something unfixed, something we can teach any child, regardless of their personality type, which will increase their future health, wealth and happiness.  This important something is the quality of self control.

The measure of self control a child possesses has, through the findings of The Dunedin Studyand others, been shown to be a more important factor in predicting individual positive life outcomes than intelligence or IQ.

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Professor Belsky

“Are you in command of yourself or does your self control you?” asks Professor Jay Belsky, Professor of Human Development at the University of California, Davis.  “Lots of people will say, ‘I didn’t choose to explode, it just happened.’  However, we now know that self control measured at age three forecasts whether a person will be married/ in a stable relationship, whether they will have a good or bad job history and even whether they will have good or bad health in adulthood.”

The good new is that, unlike personality  (which is fairly fixed), self control is variable, as it is a quality we learn.  Following from this, self control can be developed in any child.

Self Control is not fixed and can be developed in anyone.

The classic psychological “self control” test is what has become known as “The Marshmallow Test”.  Young children are left alone in a room with a marshmallow on a plate in front of them.  If they manage not to eat the marshmallow before an adult returns, they are given a second marshmallow.  They are told clearly in advance that the reward for controlling their natural impulse to eat the first marshmallow will be to obtain a second one. The children were filmed while alone with the marshmallow.  Children who showed the most self control during these experiments used self distraction to avoid eating the marshmallow.

“Kids who have the ability to distract themselves in this way are those who have had early, clear boundaries put in place,” Professor Belsky says.  “By age three or four they know that if they are told not do do something, the best method of avoiding it is not to hang around it and to find something else to do.”  Children’s methods of avoiding the marshmallow (and controlling their impulses) vary: some sing, crawl under the table, put their heads down or shut or avert their eyes.  When put in pairs, children encouraged (or discouraged) self control in one another. (A video clip of children participating in “The Marshmallow Test”, from YouTube is below).

The results of The Dunedin Studyshow that in almost every measure of success, self control made a huge difference.  Moreover, participants who displayed low levels of self control during childhood presented with a raft of physical problems later on in life. These health issues included such things as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, gum disease and sexually transmitted diseases.  “Low self-control” children were also more likely to grow up addicted to tobacco, alcohol or drugs. All these represent an expensive cost to the individual, their community and society.

Self Control: a more important factor in predicting individual positive life outcomes than intelligence or IQ.

How, then, can self control be improved and developed in our children?  The best control measure in the The Dunedin Studycame when comparing children who were identified at age three as having an “Undercontrolled” personality (10% of participants) with one another.  Those who had firm, consistent and sensitive parenting with structure and routine developed self control habits which over-rode their “Undercontrolled” personality types.  “Enforced Norms”, such as those created in Early Childhood Education Centres, were also shown to be of benefit in helping children regulate their own behaviour and create their own  boundaries.  Furthermore, it was shown that intervention and work on developing self control at any age (even during adulthood) was beneficial.

As with other areas, however, The Dunedin Studyfindings showed that the greatest benefits were achieved the younger the age at which children learned these skills.

Professor Heckman

Professor Heckman

Professor James Heckman is Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics and an expert in the economics of human development.  Heckman and his team have been using results from The Dunedin Study“ in the USA, advising the presidency to prioritize the teaching of Self Control in schools.  Professor Heckman believes this will result in huge, long term benefits to the US economy, as well as immense savings.

Once again, then, findings from The Dunedin Studyoffer hope and encouragement.  Nature at age three, thirty three or fifty three does not vary greatly.  However Nurture plays and enormous part in determining whether or not a young child has positive life outcomes as an adult.  Role modelling and teaching the vitally important quality of “Self Control”, as well as parenting consistently, with regular routines and boundaries, gives young children, particularly those with Undercontrolled or  Inhibited personality types, the best chance at becoming well-adjusted adults who are able to cope with what life throws their way.  The overall message then: with the right methods and resources at our disposal we can make a difference in the life trajectory of any child… something we can all feel positive about.

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All you need is Love Bombing, by Oliver James, psychologist

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In March 2010 I received an email from Miranda. She wrote that her son Tim, nine, “seems to not like himself and has no focus. He says he hates himself and that he’s rubbish at everything”. A bright boy, Tim refused to do his homework and was prone to temper tantrums.

The solution I proposed was love bombing, a method I developed to reset the emotional thermostats of children aged three to puberty. It entails spending a period of time alone with your child, offering them unlimited love and control. It works for a wide variety of common problems, severe or mild; from defiant – even violent – aggression to shyness, sleeping problems or underperformance at school.

This is not the same as “quality time” – just hanging out with your child. When you love bomb, you create a special emotional zone wholly different from normal life, with new rules. More than 100 families have tried it, nearly all with positive results.

So, how exactly does it work? First, you explain to your child that, sometime soon, the two of you are going to spend time together, one to one, and have a lot of fun. Your child is going to decide what they want and when they want it, within reason. You give the message that this is going to be a Big Event: It’s Coming Soon … How Exciting! The child then draws up a list of things to do. It doesn’t matter if it includes lots of SpongeBob SquarePants: the key is that your child has chosen it.

Throughout the experience, you are trying, as much as possible, to give them the feeling of “whatever I want, I get” – of being in control and of being gratified, as well as bombed with love.

You may be thinking: Is he mad? My child is a tyrant – rewarding him like that is just going to make it even worse! This is understandable. Love bombing seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, which often recommends more control, not less, when a child is not complying, and stricter, firmer reactions to undesirable behaviour.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/22/oliver-james-love-bombing-children

You Don’t Have to Solve Your Children’s Problems For Them. By Dr. Mary Reckmeyer

Tom

Everyone knows a kid like my nephew Tom.

Tom was the 2-year-old who threw a temper tantrum, just because. Maybe it was because his mother looked at him the wrong way, or he wasn’t allowed to put the sugary cereal in the grocery cart, or he didn’t want to take a bath.

He became the 8-year-old who was afraid of dogs — even really small ones. Later, he was the teenager who wouldn’t touch the gourmet meals his mom prepared and who thought fast-food burgers were the only food worth eating. He was the high school student who often found better things to do than attend all of his classes.

Tom’s issues are common — but how much time and energy would you put into “solving his problems”?

When a child like Tom is someone else’s, parents know exactly what needs to happen. Ground him, call the counselor and make him attend aversion therapy. But when he’s your child, you wonder what the right answer is, and you can become consumed with these issues and define him by his problems.

Parents want to be the best they can be at raising happy and productive children, but unfortunately, there is no “easy button” that applies to every family and every situation. With an array of parenting advice lining the bookshelves in bookstores or delivered to your screen via your favorite online search engine, only one thing is clear: There’s no one way to raise a child. There is no “right” way to raise a child either. Blanket parenting advice just doesn’t work for everyone. Parents have their unique strengths, and each child has his individual personality. The variations in innate abilities, strengths and environmental factors are endless.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Why-You-Shouldnt-Solve-Your-Children-Problems-40125018?utm_source=com_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=com_newsletter_v3_06082016&em_recid=180811001&utm_content=placement_1_title

Why it’s good to have a strong-willed child, and why you should let up on them, by Lauren Knight

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“I will not cut my hair. Never. The answer is never, Mom, and the answer will always be never, so you should just stop asking me.” He said it without attitude, in a matter-of-fact way, as though he were simply reporting on the weather or time of day. At 6 years old, my second-born son, Oliver, has nearly perfected the delivery of undesirable news to others, news that he knows the recipient would rather not hear. He is used to going against the grain by now. Since he was 3 years old, he has dug in his heels about anything and everything. The smallest things strike him as unacceptable: the wrong pair of pants, the wrong dinner, the way his shoes feel or the way he is tucked in at night. He is a child of high standards, and if he disagrees with something, he makes it known.

It’s not that Oliver is a difficult child; he is actually an absolute delight. He is sweet and generous, helpful with his little brother (with all younger children, for that matter). He notices beautiful colors in the flower gardens on our street or the leaves changing in the fall. He delights in the small things and is grateful and polite to others, he is creative and bright. But when he disagrees, he is the most headstrong, stubborn person I have ever come across. He does not comply to be obedient, he complies when he feels it is the right thing to do or it makes sense to him. That can make it difficult to parent him, at times.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/11/09/why-its-good-to-have-a-strong-willed-child-and-why-you-should-let-up-on-them/?postshare=6231447501912791&tid=ss_fb-bottom