We know from multiple research studies conducted over the past 40 years that children who master social and emotional skills can establish positive relationships and are more likely to experience positive well-being. We also know that social and emotional skills are exceptional predictors of success at school and work.

For example, this study looked at college graduation rates for students with strong social competence in Kindergarten.

That’s right. Kindergarten students with strong social and emotional skills were four times more likely to graduate from college.

Recently, the team at Transforming Education published a comprehensive summary of social and emotional research titled Ready to Be Counted: The Research Case for Education Policy Action on Non-Cognitive Skills.

Of particular interest was the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. In 1973, researchers in Dunedin, New Zealand began evaluating self-control in approximately 1,000 young children. And 13 times over the subsequent 38 years they looked at progress and outcomes. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Of children in the top quintile (Top 1/5) of self-control, 95% earned a high school diploma but in the bottom quintile, only 58% earned a diploma.
  • If you were in the lowest quintile of self-control, you were 3x more likely to have been convicted of a crime versus the highest children in the top quintile.
  • Low self-control was also a huge predictor of depression, and habitual drug and alcohol problems.

Pretty compelling evidence for the importance of developing and improving social and emotional skills, especially at an early age!