By Amy Morin
It's hard to believe that what your child knows at age 5 could influence his future chances of success. But that's exactly what a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found.
But researchers discovered that the skills that predict future success had nothing to do with reading or writing. Instead, they say your child's social and emotional skills are what determine how likely your child is to go to college rather than end up in jail.
What the Research Found
Researchers from Penn State and Duke University interviewed kindergarten teachers about children's social and emotional competence. The teachers weighed in on how well the kids shared, listened to others, resolved problems with their peers, and were helpful.
Then researchers followed up with the kids once they became young adults to see what happened to them. They discovered that the kids with the highest social and emotional competency scores in kindergarten fared better overall.
For every one-point increase in children's social competency scores in kindergarten, they were twice as likely to obtain college degrees. They were also more likely to have full-time jobs by age 25.
But the kids who had trouble cooperating, listening, and resolving conflict were less likely to finish high school--let alone college. They were more likely to have legal problems and substance abuse issues.
For every one-point decrease in social competency at age 5, a child had a 67 percent higher chance of being arrested in early adulthood. A one-point decrease also meant a child had a 52 percent higher rate of binge drinking and an 82 percent higher chance of living in public housing (or at least being on the waitlist).
Social and Emotional Skills Can Be Taught
With all the evidence that supports the importance of social and emotional skills, isn't it incredible to think that we still pour most of our resources into teaching kids academic skills? From Baby Einstein music to flash cards for toddlers, there are tons of products on the market that promise to help your kids succeed.
But none of those products will actually help your kids become emotionally competent. You have to teach those skills yourself--your kids won't...(click here to continue reading)