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Benefits Of Teaching Delayed Gratification

Delayed Gratification
You may have about delayed gratification, you may have even heard of ‘The Marshmallow Experiment’, performed by, the psychologist Walter Mischel, over 40 years ago.

 The Marshmallow What?

The Marshmallow experiment itself was simple. Put a marshmallow in front of a child, aged roughly 4-5, and told them that if they waited 15 minutes and didn’t eat the marshmallow in front of them, then they would receive two marshmallows once the 15 minutes was up.

What does that have to do with delayed gratification?
Delayed gratification is when a person puts off an immediate reward in preference of a later reward, i.e. not having one marshmallow now but benefiting from having two marshmallows in 15 minutes.

Sounds exciting, but why does this matter to me?
Delayed gratification is a crucial ability for everyone to have, but it’s especially important to embed in young children. The reasons for this are numerous and far-reaching but simply put. Children who learnt delayed gratification achieved higher SAT scores, had a lower likelihood of obesity and substance abuse, were able to respond better to stress and performed better in a variety of other scenarios.

How can I teach this to my kids?
While many factors play into a child’s psychology and behaviour, one of the most important things that this study found was that this; If a promise or a reward is made to a child and it is kept and delivered on, this will teach them two things:

  1. Waiting for the reward is worth it.
  2. They have the ability to wait.

The study showed that self-discipline and self-control are not inborn skills, but can be very quickly learnt by children.