Self-control improvement programs for children are effective at improving self-control, as well as reducing delinquency and problem behaviors, according to this study. Because self-control regulates antisocial, delinquent and criminal behavior, many programs have been developed to improve self-control among children and adolescents. But do these programs work? Do they reduce delinquency and problem behaviors? And, what type of programs are the most successful? When examining these questions, the authors identified 5,000 potentially relevant studies of which 34 met the quality and criteria for inclusion. The review shows that not only are self-control improvement programs effective at improving self-control and reducing delinquency and problem behaviors, but that the effect of these programs is quite strong.
The authors conclude that the use of such programs should continue for children up to age 10, which is the age at which self-control becomes arguably relatively fixed. In particular, programs that are based on specific training efforts, that are focused and of short-duration. Based on the evidence, the recommended policy response is towards interventions aimed at improving socialization and child-rearing practices in the first decade of life-in lieu of the more cost-prohibitive incarceration policies of the recent past.
Alex R. Piquero, Wesley G. Jennings, and David P. Farrington
Campbell Collaboration, 2010