Catch up on shows with The Coast On Demand
Monday, August 27, 2012 1:52 PM
In 1972 a psychologist called Walter Mischel offered 4 to 6-year-old kids a marshmallow. He told them they could eat it now, but if they could wait fifteen minutes, he would give them an extra marshmallow. They were then left alone for fifteen minutes. Some ate the marshmallow straight away, some battled with the temptation. Mischel said some would "cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can't see the tray, others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal". He tested 600 kids, and only one child in three was able to wait the full fifteen minutes and get the second marshmallow.
The interesting thing was, when they followed those kids up fifteen years later, the one third who had been able to wait were far more successful than the others – they had better school grades, they were rated as being more competent and they were happier. They’ve just followed those kids up again and you can still see the same effect nearly forty years later.
The lesson is obvious – those kids who ate twice as many marshmallows did much better, so eat more marshmallows! No, the thing is delayed gratification. Delaying gratification is the key skill to success. It lies behind saving and studying and exercise and diet and all those other very important life skills. And you can teach your kids this. Make them wait until certain times before they can eat or have treats; make sure they do what they have to do first, before they can do what they want to do. Indulging a child ultimately makes them less happy. When we use wise discipline, it creates self discipline in them – and that will be the secret of their success.
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