Teaching self control better than imposing restrictions

Principals want restrictions on junk food sold near schools.

This is would be a desperate step which wouldn’t work.

Removing some temptation teaches the children nothing, what they need is to learn how to resist it.

That is backed up by a University of Otago study that shows self-controlled children become healthier, wealthier adults.

Young children’s self-control skills – such as conscientiousness, self-discipline and perseverance – predict their health, wealth and criminal history in later life regardless of social background or IQ, the Multidisciplinary Study shows.

The study led by Professors Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt and Richie Poulton is published in the US-based journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and offers evidence that even small improvements in self-control for children can yield reductions in costs of healthcare, welfare dependency and crime to a nation.

Professor Moffitt says the research indicates that low self-control makes children vulnerable to ‘snares’ that could have life-long impacts.

Poor diet and lack of exercise aren’t going to be solved by imposing restrictions on dairies and fast-food outlets when most of the responsibility for what children eat and do lies at home.

What do they eat for breakfast, what are they given to eat at school, what do they have when they get home , how active are they and where do they get the money to spend on junk food?

Children who have a reasonable diet and enough exercise most of the time won’t get fat on the occasional treat.

Learning to eat properly and make healthy choices is one aspect of self control and the study shows that has many benefits:

The results suggest all children – even those who already have above average self-control – could reap later rewards from universal interventions design to improve such skills.

“This is a highly uplifting message,” Ms Moffitt says. “Not only could the most vulnerable children have a better chance at a happy and healthy life; there is the potential for across-the-board benefits in personal, social and economic well-being.”

Ms Moffitt says the challenge now is to develop interventions specifically focuses on improving self-control skills that can be offered on a universal basis to young people.

I have sympathy for principals who have to deal with the behavioural and health problems in pupils who don’t eat balanced diets.

But this study shows the solution is in teaching self-control to individuals rather than imposing restrictions on businesses and their customers. 

A large part of the solution to the problem of childhood obesity isn’t restrictions on what’s sold but self-restraint over what’s eaten.

P.S.

Jim Mora interviewed Professor Richie Poulton on the self-control study and he was also interviewed on Close Up.

10 Responses to Teaching self control better than imposing restrictions

  1. robertguyton says:

    “Removing some temptation teaches the children nothing”

    Let’s remove the age restriction on alcohol altogether then, and have it available in school canteens, just to give children the opportunity to learn for themselves.
    How about cannabis then? Removing that temptation is, according to you, wong. Let them learn for themselves.
    Food is not alcohol I know, but both cause tax payers a lot and obesity is a looming burden we (the tax payer) will have to bear.
    “The results suggest all children – even those who already have above average self-control – could reap later rewards from universal interventions design to improve such skills.”
    Self control – how can they learn it if you take away the temptations Ele?

    Like

  2. Andrei says:

    I know Robert – why don’t we hand over every aspect of our lives to the Government – they can tell us what to eat, and when to eat it it.

    When to get up in the morning and when to go to bed at night.

    Remind us to go to the toilet d and brush our teeth before going to bed.

    When to have sex and when to breed.

    Sounds like paradise.

    And the so called obesity epidemic is a crock, an excuse for busybodies to interfere in the lives and businesses of everyday people.

    The nongs wont be happy until they have every kid in New Zealand looking like a Biafran refugee.

    Phtttt

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  3. ZenTiger says:

    Let’s remove the age restriction on alcohol altogether then, and have it available in school canteens, just to give children the opportunity to learn for themselves.

    Let’s try enforcing the age restrictions on alcohol and smokes so they learn how to say “NO”.

    The idea that Dairy owners have to have a list of things they are not allowed to sell because they are 800m from a school is ridiculous beyond the need to even discuss it, especially as the report slammed fast-food outlets (Fish and Chips, Burgers, Macs) for a big part of it and then ignored them in the “solution” of picking on a Dairy.

    These idiots are so scared of applying any form of discipline to kids they pick on others to maintain their control, and in doing so, do the kids no favours.

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  4. robertguyton says:

    “Let’s try enforcing the age restrictions on alcohol and smokes so they learn how to say “NO”.”

    The normally rational Zen, loses his balance.

    How Zen, does ‘enforcing the age restriction’ allow young people to ‘learn to say no!’

    Please explain!

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  5. ZenTiger says:

    The answer is hinted in this statement:

    These idiots are so scared of applying any form of discipline to kids they pick on others to maintain their control, and in doing so, do the kids no favours

    When you announce that smoking and alcohol is illegal for children, and you say “No” they soon learn if you are serious about saying “No” or it’s just an aspiration.

    I see kids (when school is on) sitting around bus stops smoking. I’ve never seen any effort to clean that up. One kid last year managed to drink himself to death after regular binge sessions whilst boarding at school. It’s a indicator that enforcing discipline isn’t important any more, or it’s so politically incorrect to assert authority, it is avoided.

    The school my kids went to some time ago had parents and teachers united in what was acceptable in lunches and sold in the Canteen and the provision no kid could leave the school grounds during school hours, and it was enforced. Consequently, healthy, happy and well adjusted kids.

    Putting all your efforts into enforcing how dairy owners behave, so that confrontation is avoided with children, will not teach children how they need to behave. also, thinking you can ban or control every possible temptation so that children don’t make a fatal mistake will not teach children how to be responsible when other generically similar (but different in substance) situations occur.

    Think about it.

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  6. ZenTiger says:

    “Normally rational” ???

    Are you buttering me up for something?? 🙂

    Like

  7. robertguyton says:

    Key on ‘Campbell’ – flayed!
    “New Zealand’s credit rating is going down”
    YES JOHN! You are in charge. The down grade is YOUR responsibility!!

    Oh Dear!!!

    Like

  8. ZenTiger says:

    Just as long as we don’t slip out of the top half of the OECD we’ll be fine.

    I suspect the credit rating will pop right back once Key gets stuck into opening up investment in the SOE’s by “mums and dads” investors (are there any other kind? in the National Party. I know Labour thinks the typical investors are Japanese House Wives and Chinese business women)

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  9. pdm says:

    RG – Had Labour been re-elected in 2008 the credit rating would have gone down at the next review.

    End of story.

    Like

  10. ZenTiger says:

    BTW, sorry to change the topic, but waddya think about those fascists in the Second Rate Principal Association wanting to force shop keepers to hide the meat pies in the cash register? Can’t remember where I saw the story, but it’s all over the place.

    Like

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