MONDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Children with the most self-control at 3 years old become the healthiest, wealthiest and most successful adults, new research finds.
And those with the least self-control at age 3 are more likely to drop out of school, break the law and struggle financially, the study authors concluded.
Researchers analyzed data on about 1,000 children born in New Zealand in 1972-1973 and tracked them until age 32. Their self-control was measured at various points starting at age 3 using assessments by teachers, parents and the children themselves.
Children with high IQs raised in socioeconomically advantaged families tended to have greater self-control, according to the study published online Jan. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
But even after accounting for intelligence and social class, children who had more self-control at age 3 went on to earn more money and have better health at age 32.
Children with less self-control were more likely to adopt negative behaviors -- to get pregnant as a teenager, to smoke, to become a single parent and to be unemployed.
Three-year-olds with little self-control were also more likely to have financial difficulties and poorer health in adulthood. Medical exams and blood tests showed they had more gum disease and sexually transmitted diseases; were more likely to be overweight, have high cholesterol or high blood pressure and signs of inflammation; and were more likely to be addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and harder drugs.
"Self-control is vital for scanning the horizon to be prepared for what might happen to you, for planning ahead to get where you want to go, for getting along with other people and attracting their help and support, and for waiting for the really good things that are worth waiting for, instead of jumping for short-term fun," said lead study au
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