Aug 11, 2015 | By

Success and Religion – The Importance of Social Competence in Children

A recent article in the Washington Post caught my eye: “If you want your children to succeed, teach them to share in kindergarten.” The article reports on research (tracking 753 students) validating the strong relationship between social competence in kindergarten and future wellness in adults (Damon E. Jones et all, American Journal of Public Health in July 16, 2015). This is wonderful, but it is hardly news. Missing, however, is any discussion of what leads to social competence (including sharing behaviors) among young children.

For that we need to dig a bit deeper. Jee Young Noh of Harvard reported in 2010 (International Journal of Arts and Sciences) on research involving 17,500 subjects that reaffirmed the significance of both religious environment and parental warmth on children’s social competence. According to Noh, “As many previous studies have pointed out, religious people, overall, have a greater ability to self-control and fewer externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors because they learn religious values and engage in religious services, which creates stronger social competence.”

Religious practice leads to increased social competence in children and more success for them as adults.  This is news!

2 Responses to “Success and Religion – The Importance of Social Competence in Children”

  1. George Gantz says:

    Emily – I had the opportunity to listen to a media panel at the AAAS “Reflections” conference last March that discussed the role that journalists see for themselves (I reported on the conference in Reflections on “Perspectives”.) Even good journalists believe their role is to report on conflict and controversy – hence it is not surprising that they are selective in their reporting. This is discouraging – and it means we have to dig deeper ourselves to get the whole story! Thanks for the comment! – George

  2. Emily says:

    I’m surprised the Noh study wasn’t reported more widely in the media. After a similar study finding identical results that came out in 2007 (by John Bartkowski et al.) got a great deal of attention. Another study from Jamaica in the West Indian Medical Journal also found that more aggressive and less prosocial children tended to come from less religious families. Obviously the media can’t report every study that comes out, but it does seem they are kind of selective in their reporting.

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