SOURCE: Vision Media

January 25, 2011 11:46 ET

Self Control Assures Children's Success in Life --

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - January 25, 2011) - A new article from, Teaching Children the Art of Self-Control, could help parents set their children on the path to health, wealth, and future success. 

What do parents want for their children? Academic success? Positive peer relationships? Health, wealth, and happiness? Research published on Monday, January 24, 2011, finds that a child's ability to develop self-control is more influential than intelligence or social status in securing all of these desired outcomes. Led by Duke University's Avshalom Caspi, the research team examined outcomes for 1,000 children in a longitudinal study spanning 32 years in Dunedin, New Zealand. Though it may seem surprising to some that intelligence did not emerge as the most important factor, the connection between success and self-control does not come entirely out of left field. Researchers have observed for decades that nearly everything people do or become requires some form of self-control, or self-regulation.

But if self-control is so important, how can parents help their children develop this crucial art, and when should they begin?

"The term self-regulation may have a decidedly independent ring, but the capacity springs from utter dependence," says Stepp. "Its foundations are laid in infancy, through responsive interactions between infants and caregivers."

As children move beyond infancy they focus on exploring their world and mastering basic skills during the toddler years. At the same time, parents can begin teach them conscious strategies to regulate emotion and behavior. Predictably, parents of children who use strategies for self-control tend to be fairly competent at these skills themselves. "Compared to other parents," says Stepp, "they show more patience and positive guiding behaviors, such as helping children learn to distract themselves in frustrating situations or encouraging them to divert their attention away from a forbidden object." Distraction is one of the most important self-regulatory strategies at this stage, but toddlers are unlikely to use it spontaneously. This and other self-regulatory strategies seem to be learned as a result of positive encouragement from parents. Conversely, research also indicates that parents who use more negatively directive and controlling parenting styles do not foster constructive strategies in their children.

In Teaching Children the Art of Self-Control, Stepp presents research-based parenting strategies that can useful as children enter middle-childhood and then move into adolescence, and explains that self-regulation and supportive interpersonal relationships are entwined in an inseparable circular process. Just as self-regulation grows out of attuned social connection, so the success of our social connections depends to a great degree on our ability to self-regulate.

Parents who hope to give their children the best tools for future success will want to read more at

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