Are Hostile Kids Destined for Unemployment?

Aggressive children may be destined for later long-term unemployment. In a study that began in 1968, researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland examined about 300 participants at ages 8, 14, 27 and 36. They looked for aggressive behaviors like hurting other children, kicking objects when angry, or attacking others without reason.

Their results, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development, suggest that children with low self-control of emotion -- especially aggression -- were significantly more prone to long-term unemployment. Children with behavioral inhibitions -- such as passive and anxious behaviors -- were also indirectly linked to unemployment as they lacked the preliminary initiative needed for school success. And while unemployment rates were high in Finland during the last data collection, jobless participants who were aggressive as children were less likely to have a job two years later than their non-aggressive counterparts.

Ongoing unemployment can have serious psychological consequences, including depression, anxiety and stress. But lead researcher Lea Pulkkinen, Ph.D., a Jyvaskyla psychology professor, does have encouraging news for parents: Aggressive children with good social skills and child-centered parents were significantly less likely to be unemployed for more than two years as adults.

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