Want to raise your children to have a better chance of being wealthy when they are older? Teach them self-control and patience. According to a study titled “A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety,” tests on children of various ages, and most notably twins, showed that the child who had greater self-control and patience had a higher chance of success when they were older, as well as lower chances of various health effects.
This is great news and totally makes sense. Think about it. If you practice self-control and patience in life when it comes to whether or not to eat that box of Oreos sitting on the counter, or take your time before buying that new pair of shoes, you might have a better chance of making smarter financial decisions. You may take that second to pause and think do I really need that, or wouldn’t it be better to keep the money liquid and in the bank.
The need to delay gratification, control impulses, and modulate emotional expression is the earliest and most ubiquitous demand that societies place on their children, and success at many life tasks depends critically on children’s mastery of such self-control.
The key then is how to teach our children at a young age that they do not need immediate satisfaction from their little demands. Our oldest son, Bug, tests us everyday in how fast we can succumb to his constant requests. I want to do this, open that, fill my cup with water. While we make sure to teach him manners by saying please and thank you, teaching him patience, and that he does not need a piece of candy before a healthy breakfast is more difficult.
As we continue to raise our youngest son, Land Shark, we are constantly reminded of when to fall into their “demands.” As we raised Bug, I remember at times letting him cry it out and realizing, he needed to learn patience and that crying did not always signal that mom or dad would come running. We were not trying to teach them tough love, or neglecting them for our own selfish desires, we were trying to instill in them that they did not need what they thought they needed right now. Once you get to the second child, it is tough to always remember the cry-it-out rule. What we really are trying to teach both of our children though is patience and self-control. We do not want to raise children that feel enabled that they must get everything they ask for, except at times they are with the grandparents, aunts, or uncles (because they like to spoil them and have earned that right).
That is why I was happy to see a scientific study that backs what we have been teaching our kids. As they grow older, hopefully we can instill in them not only life lessons, but also a little bit of control that can help them share a secure financial future as well.
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