Will Your Toddler Grow Up to Be a Criminal?

Julie Ryan Evans

tantrumHave an ill-behaved toddler? Researchers say you may want to prepare yourself for jail visits later in life. According to a story in The Telegraph, a new study says children as young as 3 who are naughty are more likely to experience everything from drug and financial problems to a life of crime.

Let's see, based on the children I know that means THEY ARE ALL DOOMED. 

They looked at 1,000 children in New Zealand, and had teachers and parents rank them on things like "low frustration tolerance, lacks persistence in reaching goals, difficulty sticking with a task, overactive, acts before thinking, has difficulty waiting turn, restless, not conscientious." They found those toddlers who didn't fare so well in these areas also didn't fare so well later in life.

They may as well reserve a jail cell for my children now.

Those impulsive toddlers are also at  risk for credit card debt, and alcohol and drug issues, plus things like: Breathing problems, gum disease, sexually transmitted disease, inflammation, being overweight and high cholesterol and blood pressure. Dear lord, my spunky daughter's future isn't looking so bright.

Those "risk factors' read like a toddler job description to me. And sure there are levels of out of control, but those can vary about as frequently as my daughter wants to change her dress -- like every two minutes. Just because toddlers don't do well on them doesn't mean parents aren't working on them and they won't learn eventually ... at least I hope so.

"This shows self-control is important by itself, apart from all other factors that siblings share, such as their parents and home life," said Prof Terrie Moffitt.

The good news, I guess, is that if children are more difficult when they're younger, it can send a signal that more discipline, or therapy, or something is necessary to help put a little brightness in their otherwise doomed futures. Self-control school, here we come.

Does your toddler exhibit any of these at-risk behaviors? Or perhaps better put, does anyone's toddler NOT exhibit any of these at-risk behaviors?

Image via Forest Runner/Flickr 

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