marshmallow
teaching delayed gratification

Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation to enjoy something mildly rewarding in order to wait for something that is highly rewarding.

A landmark study on delayed gratification was conducted in the 1960s by researcher Walter Mischel at the Stanford University. Children, aged 4-6, were brought into the test room and a marshmallow was placed in front of them. They were given a choice. They could either eat the marshmallow right away or, if they waited a short while, they would be given two marshmallows. The children were followed for years and it was found that those who chose to wait in order to receive two marshmallows were more successful in life: they scored higher on SATs and attained higher educational achievements. They also had lower BMIs.

Initially it was thought that the ability to delay gratification was innate: meaning that you are either born with the ability or not. Although individual differences certainly play a role, more recent studies show that a person’s social environment also has an influence. It is shown that if children trust that the promise to receive double will not be broken, they are more likely to wait.

Skills in delayed gratification include

  • Patience
  • Self-control
  • Will power
  • Impulse control

These skills are highly valuable when it comes to eating. In order to have a healthy relationship with food, it’s necessary to have impulse control and will power.

These skills are also transferable to other areas of life. When your child is older and gets his first job, what will he do with his first paycheque? If he hasn’t learned the skills for delayed gratification, he might impulsively spend it all on trivial items instead of saving up for something special.

Providing children with a set schedule of meals and snacks encourages the development of delayed gratification in the following ways:

  • Not giving into panhandling. Panhandling is when a child asks a parent for something to eat when it is not meal or snack-time. If the parent acquiesces, this teaches the child that they do not have to wait. It’s perfectly fine for a child to go hungry for a short while. A small amount of hunger develops a healthy appetite. Food tastes so much better and feels much more satisfying when we are hungry!
  • Grazing on food throughout the day does not teach patience.
  • The set meal and snack schedule enables your child to trust you when you say no to panhandling. If you inform them that the next meal will be in half hour and actually follow through on that promise, they will continue to trust this to be true the next time.
  • If a child knows that there is a set meal and snack schedule that allows them the opportunity to eat at frequent intervals, they will be less likely to overeat. If a child does not trust that food will be offered soon, they will not have the self-control to stop eating when they are nicely full.

Reflection:
Write down three future situations in which the skill of delayed gratification would help your child.

References:
http://rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4622

teaching delayed gratification

Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation to enjoy something mildly rewarding in order to wait for something that is highly rewarding.

A landmark study on delayed gratification was conducted in the 1960s by researcher Walter Mischel at the Stanford University. Children, aged 4-6, were brought into the test room and a marshmallow was placed in front of them. They were given a choice. They could either eat the marshmallow right away or, if they waited a short while, they would be given two marshmallows. The children were followed for years and it was found that those who chose to wait in order to receive two marshmallows were more successful in life: they scored higher on SATs and attained higher educational achievements. They also had lower BMIs.

Initially it was thought that the ability to delay gratification was innate: meaning that you are either born with the ability or not. Although individual differences certainly play a role, more recent studies show that a person’s social environment also has an influence. It is shown that if children trust that the promise to receive double will not be broken, they are more likely to wait.

Skills in delayed gratification include

  • Patience
  • Self-control
  • Will power
  • Impulse control

These skills are highly valuable when it comes to eating. In order to have a healthy relationship with food, it’s necessary to have impulse control and will power.

These skills are also transferable to other areas of life. When your child is older and gets his first job, what will he do with his first paycheque? If he hasn’t learned the skills for delayed gratification, he might impulsively spend it all on trivial items instead of saving up for something special.

Providing children with a set schedule of meals and snacks encourages the development of delayed gratification in the following ways:

  • Not giving into panhandling. Panhandling is when a child asks a parent for something to eat when it is not meal or snack-time. If the parent acquiesces, this teaches the child that they do not have to wait. It’s perfectly fine for a child to go hungry for a short while. A small amount of hunger develops a healthy appetite. Food tastes so much better and feels much more satisfying when we are hungry!
  • Grazing on food throughout the day does not teach patience.
  • The set meal and snack schedule enables your child to trust you when you say no to panhandling. If you inform them that the next meal will be in half hour and actually follow through on that promise, they will continue to trust this to be true the next time.
  • If a child knows that there is a set meal and snack schedule that allows them the opportunity to eat at frequent intervals, they will be less likely to overeat. If a child does not trust that food will be offered soon, they will not have the self-control to stop eating when they are nicely full.

Reflection:
Write down three future situations in which the skill of delayed gratification would help your child.

References:
http://rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4622