Waiting for the big prize

Have been reading about delayed gratification and instilling this on children so they learn to be calmer and more patient. The theory – which i believe in – that by instilling delayed gratification, kids would be able to deal with situations where they cant have what they want right there and then … and that’s ok!

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about the marshmallow study back in the 60s which tested on delayed gratification.

Because I’m lazy, I’ll just copy and paste from wiki:
“The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.) In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment,body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.”

You can watch a video of modern day’s Marshmallow test here.

Now the interesting thing is …. can you teach this to a kid? How do you teach a kid to wait and be patient? Easier if they’re above 5 and understand reasoning. It turns out that those kids who ate the marshmallow focused on the object and hence, ate it more quickly. Whereas those who didn’t eat it distracted themselves. Now this sounds like common sense but actually when you have a two year old who wants to eat NOW or wants that toy NOW and is at a point of having the biggest tantrum, it’s hard to think of logic sometimes. Well, these kids find a way to distract themselves – they sing a little song or play with their feet. Or in the video’s case, dance in your seat.

Speaking of being patient, I think as adults we need to learn or re-learn this skill too. In a world of instant objects (Amazon prime delivery the next day! maggi mee in 2 minutes! instant coffee! internet so fast… no, no fast internet in BWN i guess?), we’re so used to having things at the snap
of our fingers. Is that why we whine so much? Time is such a precious commodity for us… always rushing, always wanting things now now now. Even the page we download takes that one minute longer is killing us. And for what? What are we rushing for really?

This is of course a reminder for me first and foremost. Muhasabah diri for the day.

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