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Delayed Gratification

Please Wait. Waiting can be challenging for even the most patient person. Delayed gratification is the delay in the state of being gratified. In today’s society everything is instant and that is the expected mindset. You can even ask Alexa to change the song, turn down your lights or change your TV show in an instant. As Peter Benson put it so eloquently in Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers, "teens don’t have time to wait, and they’re surrounded by devices and environments that feed their impatience and restlessness. Teens’ expectation of quick results and instant downloading has resulted in a lot of teenagers having a sense of entitlement.” Making Grateful Kids by Jeffrey J. Froh and Ciacomo Bono. Delayed gratification creates an energy that will slow down the mindset and clear your thinking that creates a sense of entitlement in which a culture of immediate rewards creates.

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment was conducted in the 1960’s and 1970’s by Walter Mischel the psychologist and professor at Stanford University. The purpose of the experiment was to see if children around the age of four years old had developed the mental capacity to resist the temptation of a small reward and a bigger reward later.

The child was given one marshmallow and the instructions were “If you do not eat this marshmallow until I get back you will receive another one”. There are many YouTube Videos, (search, "Marshmallow Effect") you may enjoy seeing the experiment and watching the results. This was conducted to understand self-control and the effects of delayed gratification. Walter Mischel was curious if the difference in will power would continue through adolescence and adulthood. In 2010 the original subjects were found and the four year olds who could delay gratification received higher SATS scores and were better test takers over all. The study participants are in their 40’s and 50’s and research indicates they excelled in education, success in job interviews and maintaining exceptional employment, higher self-worth, stress management success, and are less prone to using drugs.

When you ask your child to “wait” and slow down with your response this is a good thing, not only are you building their delayed gratification muscles, you are preparing your child for future success.

Until next time -


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