Could that defiant preschooler of yours be headed for trouble? Contrary to popular belief, researchers now believe impulsive tendencies in the early years may spell an addictive personality in later life.
According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, preschoolers with an "under-controlled" temperament were more likely to struggle with gambling in adulthood.
After studying more than 1,000 toddlers from New Zealand, those labelled as "more restless, moody or inattentive" at the age of three showed addictive gambling tendencies when they were later revisited at ages 21 and 32, regardless of other variables, such as intelligence, gender or family socioeconomic status.
The more well-adjusted and reserved children in the study were less likely to show disordered gambling patterns at a later age than their "under-controlled" peers.
Clearly not all impulsive kids will go on to become gamblers, but the study does highlight the importance of teaching emotional regulation and self-control early on.
"We've always questioned whether addiction was causing people to be more impulsive or whether those people were more impulsive to begin with," said Psychiatrist Daniela Lobo, who works at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's Problem Gambling Service in Toronto.
Lobo also stressed that an impulsive temperament can also be channeled into "positive exploits such as entrepreneurship. If there's one thing we can take away, it's that addiction isn't a black-and-white issue," she said.