Worth Repeating: Patience!
Marshmallows can predict your future.
In the 1960s, there was an experiment with marshmallows. Children at the nursery school on Stanford’s campus were placed at a table and had the option of having one marshmallow now — or getting two marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes while the researcher left the room. Children used many tactics to distract themselves while waiting, like kicking the floor, pulling their braids, and covering their eyes. Only about 30 percent of the children could hold out long enough to get the reward. But more importantly, it was found that those who could resist the marshmallows as preschoolers performed better in school later in life. Researchers found that self-regulation was a better predictor to success than IQ.
Self-regulation is needed for emotional and cognitive development. It helps children respond to stress and challenges. And life has a lot of waiting. Waiting happens at dentists’ offices, on lines at Disney, and anything relating to the department of motor vehicles. We cannot rush seeds to grow, babies to be born, bread to rise and caterpillars to turn into butterflies. If you want ketchup from the bottle, there will be lots of anticipation. These are things we cannot speed up. Yet our technologies spoil us. We get everything fast. We eat fast food, get fast downloads and text instant messages. We don’t like to wait, and life is good.
But what researchers have found is that the lack of self-regulation in children has been linked to obesity, cognition issues, autoimmune disorders, poor coping mechanisms and cancer. Additionally, as many as half of the children in North America have poor-self regulation skills by the time they reach school age.1
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