FRIDAY, April 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Self-control during childhood is associated with improved job opportunities later in life, a new study suggests.
Kids who pay attention, stick with difficult tasks and refrain from behaving in impulsive or inappropriate ways are more likely to hold down a job as adults, researchers found. They noted children with these qualities spend 40 percent less time out of work than those with less self-control.
"The study highlights the importance of early life self-control as a powerful predictor of job prospects in adulthood," lead researcher Michael Daly, of the University of Stirling in Scotland, said in a news release from the Association for Psychological Science.
But, it's important to note that the study was only designed to find an association between childhood self-control and later employment; it doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study was published recently in the journal Psychological Science.
The researchers examined two previous studies involving more than 15,000 British children as young as 7, to analyze the link between self-control and employment as an adult.
After taking the kids' intelligence, social status, health and family circumstances into account, the study revealed a clear link between self-control and the ability to find and keep a job in the future.
The researchers also looked at what happened during the 1980s recession. People who had poor self-control as children were also more likely to have a long stretch of unemployment during this period. And, those with poor self-control were among the first to lose their jobs. They also had more trouble finding a new position. Researchers pointed out many factors could be to blame, including stress, bad habits and the negative effects of being unemployed.
"Less self-controlled children may be particularly vulnerable to unemployment during times of economic downturn in later life," said Daly. "Developing greater self-control in childhood, when the capacity for self-control is particularly malleable, could help buffer against unemployment during recessions and bring long-term benefits to society, through increased employment rates and productivity."
The study authors noted that preschool interventions and activities such as yoga and martial arts, walking and meditation have been shown to help children improve their self-control.
The U.S. National Mental Health and Education Center provides more tips on how to teach children self-control.