Delayed Gratification And Marshmallows

Delayed gratification. Oooh. Tough. Generally I want it now. Me and billions of other people. In today’s world of increased access to pretty pictures, I might want things that I would not have even known existed a decade ago.

Turns out that the capacity to delay gratification at a young age is predictive of success in later life. Well, that explains why High WASPs value DG so highly, doesn’t it? We can say it’s all about virtue and godliness, but it’s really about developing the ability to contribute to capitalism. How do we inculcate this value in children? The dinner table, where else. High WASP families make their kids set the table, they have to get the right plates and glasses and placemats. Then we have to sit and eat all together. Some families say grace. We have to eat vegetables. Lots of them. We have to try everything on our plate. And, before we get cookies, we have to have a piece of fruit. To this day I hate fruit. Finally, before we leave the table, we have to say, “May I be excused?”

All this prepares us to become law partners and investment bankers and entrepreneurs. Really. It does. The pivotal study is about kids and marshmallows. In short, one marshmallow now or two marshmallows later? The New Yorker did a great article on it here. Me, I’m just going to show you how it affects shopping habits. Tomorrow. So we can practice delays.

Image: Happy Phantom’s Flickr stream

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  • I remember seeing something about this on TV a LOOOONNNNGGGG time ago. It was funny to see the kids trying SOOO HARD to not eat their marshmallow. My favorite was the little guy that didn't eat his but he sure did lick it to death. Does that count as delayed gratification?
    Of course there was the little boy that chowed down on his the minute the adult walked out the door.
    Me personally…..I could have waited.

  • One of our most obnoxious quotes: "Delayed gratification is enhanced gratification."

    Clearly one of our more annoying as well.

    You nailed it again Miss LCP!

  • great post and thank you for the kind words- it means a lot :)



  • I'm all about the delayed gratification. I'll sit a chocolate brownie on my desk and try to ignore it for oh, 20 whole minutes before I eat it. Sometimes I can make it a whole day before indulging. It's not that it tastes better the longer I wait, I just enjoy the sadism.

  • I love this. I have a post all set to go one of these weeks about kids and delayed gratification, after reading that terrific article.
    Hey, that's the way we were brought up at the table too. Looking forward to what else you have to say on this.

  • So interesting! Thanks for posting such a great link!

  • Great post! Have a wonderful day!

  • Lovely!
    That's exactly what we would do in my Nipo-Brazilian family when I was little. I've never thought about its contribution for my success. DG will be a concept I will be thinking more frequently from now on.
    Thank you

  • TatiLie – Thank you so much.

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