It’s worrying news for any parent who’s struggled with a headstrong young child.
But scientists claim that children who have low levels of self-control at three are more likely to have health and money problems and a criminal record by the age of 32, regardless of background and IQ.
Researchers from Britain, the U.S. and New Zealand analysed data from two large studies in which children completed a range of physical tests and interviews to assess genetic and environmental factors that can shape their lives.
They found that children with low self-control were more likely to have health problems in later life including high blood pressure, being overweight, breathing problems and sexually transmitted infections.
They were also more likely to be dependent on substances such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs, more likely to be single parents, have difficulty managing money and have criminal records.
‘Mastering self-control and managing impulses are some of the earliest demands that society places on children,’ said lead researcher Dr Terrie Moffitt, of King’s College London and Duke University in the U.S.