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Study Shows Possible Link Between Childhood Behavior and Future Addiction Issues

In the never ending search to determine why and how drug addiction starts, there is new research that suggests that a child’s behavior during their preschool years can predict later issues with drugs and alcohol, among other things. Want to know if your child has the potential to develop issues with debt, poor health, criminal behavior or addiction? Keep reading.

What the Study Found

About 1000 New Zealand children were monitored over decades, and the study revealed that children who were impulsive by nature or had a hard time with self control were more likely to have problems later on. A ratings scale was developed and applied to children and their behavior in these areas between the ages of 3 and 5. Things like frustration level, tolerance and patience, and their ability to focus on the task in front of them were all ranked and monitored.

Those with low scores were more likely to drop out of school, have issues with teen pregnancy and take up smoking early on. By the age of 32, test subjects with low scores in these areas during toddlerhood were more likely to be overweight and struggling with issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, respiratory problems, sexually transmitted diseases, drug and alcohol addiction, financial problems, and a criminal record. The less able the child to control himself or herself during the preschool years, the more likely he or she was to experience these problems; in fact, less control early on meant more of these problems later for subjects in the study.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A similar study that followed 500 pairs of fraternal twins in England found the same results: those who exhibited little self control at age 5 were more likely to have problems at school and exhibit anti-social behaviors in their teens.

What the Study Means to Parents

For parents, this can be both good and bad news. No one wants to see the tendency to develop drug and alcohol addiction in their child, but parents who do note worrisome behaviors early on can work all the harder to help them develop positive habits instead. Recognizing that your child has trouble with self control and compulsive behavior at a young age gives you an opportunity to instill in them the skills they need to fight this tendency through discipline and a positive example at home.

In later years, you can make sure to implement a zero tolerance policy toward skipping school, smoking cigarettes, drinking and experimenting with other drugs. Encouraging them to eat healthily and teaching them how to manage money early on will also help them to fight against the tendency to let themselves go in these areas. Parents can take heart knowing that they did everything they could to help their child grow up to enjoy a happy, healthy and balanced life.

What Do You Think?

Have you watched nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters or your own children grow from troublesome tots into adults with serious problems? Were there other factors at play or do you believe they were genetically or temperamentally predisposed to these drug addiction from a young age?

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