More independent children tend to be healthier adults, study finds

une enfant calme
January 12, 2021

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une enfant calme
– Yuliya Evstratenko /

Childhood certainly has an effect on the adult life of every individual, and this is just as valid on a physiological, psychological or emotional level. In particular, a new study has shown that people who have better self-control during childhood are more likely to age more slowly.

Self-control linked to better health and more satisfaction in adulthood

Self-control is defined as the ability to control one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and to work to achieve goals by following a plan. An international team of researchers has found a link between the degree of self-control in childhood and certain effects of this behavior during adulthood, notably slower aging and a greater tendency to succeed. The researchers came to this conclusion thanks to a large study in New Zealand that followed a thousand people born in 1972 and 1973 from birth until their 45e year of life.

Teachers, parents and the children themselves assessed their level of self-control during childhood at 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 years old. Among the evaluation criteria, we measured the degree of aggression, impulsivity, overactivity, perseverance and attention of each child. Subsequently, aged 26 to 45, the researchers followed the physiological signs of aging in the participants’ bodies, with a focus on the nervous system of the latter. When it comes to the physiological effects of self-control, people with a better sense of control tended to walk faster and also have younger faces at age 45.

By analyzing the data from the study, it was thus found that those with higher self-control were not only healthier and biologically younger, but also showed that they were better equipped to face challenges. health, financial and social aspects of adult life. The study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also found that adults who were originally impulsive children but subsequently improved their self-control are healthier than people who never achieved better self-control.

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– Chawalit Siwaborwornwattana /

A skill that can be learned during childhood and adulthood

As to what justifies such results, the researchers explained that it was probably related to better emotional regulation to cope with life. Indeed, individuals who have better self-control are more likely to plan their lives better to face fewer crises and challenges. In addition, their responses to challenges and crises are more measured and thoughtful compared to what is observed in more impulsive individuals. In any case, the researchers made it clear that behavior during childhood is not inevitable.

Indeed, while self-control is a natural trait in some individuals, it is also something that can be taught. The researchers suggest in particular that a societal investment in training for this purpose could improve a person’s lifespan and quality of life. Moreover, this effort is valid not only for learning during childhood, but also for those who are already adults. Moreover, the researchers explained that the objective of this study is to find ways to better prepare for life. ” It is important to identify ways to help people prepare successfully for future life challenges and live longer years without disability. We have found that self-control early in life can help people age healthy ”, Said Leah Richmond-Rakerd, lead author of the study, in a communicated.

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