If you're expecting and still wondering what to expect, science has a new piece of advice for to-be mothers: own it. According to a new study, pregnant women who feel more in charge of their lives tend to raise smarter, more well-rounded kids.
Published in Frontiers in Psychology and led by the University of Bristol, the longitudinal study involved over 1,600 pregnant woman in the UK who had completed questionnaires from a previous study, Bristol's Children of the 90s. Researchers focused in on each woman's "locus of control"—a personal trait that measures how much control a person believes they have over their current situation and circumstances. Individuals with an "external locus of control" tend to be more of the "whatever happens, happens" mindset while those with an "internal locus of control" believe that they always have the power to influence the outcome of their circumstances.
The study then analyzed mathematical, scientific reasoning, and problem-solving skills of these women's offspring through various ages via unique school assessments. The findings? Mothers with an internal locus of control were more likely to have children that succeeded in math and science. These mothers were also more likely to read to their child frequently, show greater interest in their child's academics and success, and feed their child a brain-healthy diet.
"It is widely known that the locus of control of a child is strongly associated with their academic achievements, but until now we didn't know if mothers' locus of control orientation during pregnancy had a role to play in early childhood," Professor Jean Golding, lead author and founder of the Children of the 90s study, tells Psych Central. "If our findings, that mothers' attitudes and behaviors can have an effect on their child's academic abilities, can be replicated it would suggest that more efforts should be made to increase the opportunities for mothers to feel that their behaviors will have a positive outcome for themselves and their children. It would help future generations raise healthy, confident and independent children."