The researchers found a similar link between self-control at age 5 and later success. Using data on 500 pairs of fraternal twins in Britain, they found that the sibling with lower self-control scores at age 5 was more likely to smoke, perform poorly in school and engage in antisocial behaviors at age 12.
"Whether one is from a rich family or a poor family makes a difference, no doubt about it. If we are endowed with intelligence and talent, that makes a difference, no doubt about it," said Jay Belsky, a professor of human development at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the research. "But what also matters is our own self-generated behavior, the extent to which we regulate or manage our impulses, and the choices and decisions we make. We are active agents who pilot the plane that we fly through life."
If you've had a child fling herself on the ground because you said it was time to leave the playground, or wail and kick as you try to wrestle him into the bathtub, you may ask: Does that count as poor self-control?
Perhaps, though only if it happens frequently and in many situations, the researchers noted.
Poor self-control was described as having a low tolerance for frustration, lack of persistence in reaching goals, difficulty sticking with a task, impulsivity, overactivity and restlessness, and difficulty taking turns.
"A 3-year-old with good self-control can focus on a puzzle or game and stick with it until he solves it, take turns working on the puzzle nicely with another child, and get satisfaction from solving it, with a big smile," Moffitt said. "A child with poor self-control might refuse to play with anything that required any effort of him, might leave the puzzle in the middle to run around the room, might lose his temper and th
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