A simple way to increase childrens’ life chances

Research published in this week’s New Scientist suggests an approach to bringing up children that can make a significant difference to their life chances.  Inter alia, it improves health, reduces anti-social behaviour and enhances personal finances and, to cap it all, it has negligible cost.

Two studies, one of New Zealand children growing into young adults and one of non-identical British twins, show that the key is the level of self-control that children possess; the higher it is the better the outcome in later life which implies that teaching self-control is really rather important, especially for kids that don’ have it from home.  

An academic quoted by NS argues that levels of self-control are highly resistant to change and are stable over long swathes of time.   Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean that better behaviours can’t be taught, particularly in the early years.   We expect a craftsman to know how to get the best out of his tools and the most important tool we possess is our brain; we shouldn’t exempt ourselves from this general rule. 

Self-control is not the same as discipline but they are first cousins and schools need to insist on both – as the best already do.  They owe it to their charges.

Actually, this is no more than traditional good upbringing but it’s nice when the academics support grandmother’s approach.


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