Parents who are trying hard to raise kids with a sturdy character may find encouragement in some new research that shows children with an “internal locus of control” have a better than average chance of becoming healthy adults than those who depend on external controls. The term “locus of control” refers to the extent to which individuals think they can influence events through their own actions.

The researchers found that of more than 7500 British adults followed since birth, those who had shown an internal locus of control at the age of 10 were less likely to be overweight at age 30, to describe their health as poor, or show high levels of psychological stress. Previous research has suggested a link between obesity/overweight and childhood IQ, education and family income, but internal locus of control had an effect over and above those factors, the study found.

Lead researcher Dr Catharine Gale of the University of Southampton (UK) says children who are confident in their ability to influence outcomes through their own actions may also have higher self-esteem, which could also lead them to take up healthy habits. This kind of self-confidence, she adds, is not merely a natural component of one’s personality but is influenced by childhood experiences, including children’s interactions with their parents. “Parents who encourage independence and help children learn the connection between their actions and consequences tend to have children with a more internal locus of control.” ~ Reuters, June 19

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.