George and Mary-Lynn

Give Your Kids the Marshmallow Test

By Bigg Success Staff
07-10-08

Bigg Success with Money

marshmallows

It’s good to get the whole family involved in the family’s finances – especially when times are tough. Get everyone involved in finding ways to save a little money here and there.

To introduce the idea, have a little fun with your kids (depending on their age) by replicating a famous experiment … the Marshmallow Experiment, to be precise. Of course, if they’re old enough, you can just tell them about it – or even better, devise your own test with something they would value.

The test

The Marshmallow Experiment was conducted in the 1960s by Walther Mischel at Stanford University. His researchers gathered a group of four-year olds in a room. A researcher set a marshmallow in front of each kid. The kids were told that the researcher needed to run an errand. If the kid didn’t eat the marshmallow before the researcher got back, the kid would be given a second marshmallow. However, if the kid ate the marshmallow, he or she would not get another one.

The results

Some ate their marshmallow before the researcher even got out of the room! Others had no problem resisting the temptation. Some turned their backs on their marshmallows. Others sang a song or distracted themselves in other ways. One kid reportedly even licked the table around the marshmallow!

The reward for waiting was pretty good – a 100 percent increase in marshmallows! Interestingly enough, ALL the kids expected a second marshmallow – even the kids who ate theirs!

The follow-up

The researchers tracked these kids in the subsequent years. They surveyed their parents and their teachers. They found that, in general, the kids who had been able to resist the marshmallows were better adjusted and more dependable.

They were more competent socially and more self-assertive. They were able to cope with frustration and stress much better. They embraced challenges rather than seeing them as a huge obstacle. They also scored 210 points higher on their SAT exams.

Application

So consider giving your kids your own experiment. Help them understand that sometimes it’s good to resist temptation now so you can have even more tasty treats in the future!

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