I was reading an article about childhood development, and it was capped with an image of marshmallows, a reference to the famous marshmallow experiment that tested kids’ ability to forgo short-term gratification (a marshmallow) for a bigger long-term reward (two marshmallows instead of one). Kids’ ability to hold out for the big prize has been tied to all sorts of long-term successes, and as a big-time sweets lover who yet prizes self-control, I’ve always found the test interesting.
Unfortunately, signs aren’t promising. The moment I pulled up the article on my computer, I heard Katherine exclaim, “Marshmallows!” Soon she and Nathaniel were over at my side, clamouring for marshmallows. So I closed the computer, and they’re currently spending five minutes in two different rooms, with squares of baking chocolate (hey, we don’t keep marshmallows, since I’d eat them all, and they were excited about the chocolate) at their side. I know this is very unscientific, and neither kid is as young as the ones in the original experiment, but I figure that it might be a good way to start a conversation with them. If nothing else, they’ll probably learn not to jump around Mommy when they see something interesting on her laptop. We’ll see what happens.
Both kids actually held out for their second chunk of chocolate. I’m glad they did marginally better than 3-year-olds, but it was probably also a bit easier for them: they could see me break the chocolate in half, so they could envision what their second reward looked like 🙂