The importance of the early years in shaping a child’s personality is borne out by much research. A Canadian longitudinal study has found that the more impulsive a kindergarten child is, the more likely they are to indulge in games of chance by sixth grade (age 11-12).

The results were based on complete data for 163 children who came from intact families (in kindergarten, at least) and were adjusted for influences such as parental gambling. To be exact: a 1-unit increase in kindergarten impulsivity corresponded to a 25 per cent increase in later, self-reported child involvement in gambling. The researchers say:

“It is suggested that developmentally continuous risks associated with early impulsivity place individuals on a risk trajectory toward excessive gambling involvement in adolescence and emerging adulthood.”

In other words, parents who foster habits of self-control from the earliest years can save their children — and others associated with them — a lot of misery in adult life. ~ Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, March 2009


Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet