Years ago psychologists at Stanford University found that kids who were able to hold off eating a marshmallow did better in school and in life. Children were presented with a simple but enticing dilemma – you can have one marshmallow now or if you wait (in this sterile room alone with the marshmallow) for fifteen minutes you can have two marshmallows. After conducting the original experiment, psychologists followed these children for 18 years and discovered that the ability to wait for the second marshmallow was an amazingly strong predictor of their success in school, their adjustment, their happiness, even their popularity.
Dr. David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family is a big fan of the original marshmallow test research, and wrote about it in his book, No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It. Check out this humorous and insightful recreation of the “Marshmallow Study” with Dr. Walsh and some children on You Tube.
The marshmallow test is about kids developing self-discipline, which is the focus of Walsh’s latest book and the community conversation he is promoting, “Say Yes to No.”
In a society that seems to focus on immediate gratification it is important for dads and moms to help their children develop self-discipline.