Many of us have had this situation in the grocery store check out line. Grocery stores are very smart. They strategically position the candies and toys right when we’re about to pay… at the time when the kids are tired, hungry, cranky and impatient after tagging along with mom and dad at the supermarket.
We live in a world where we can get things in an instant.
Information can be downloaded in a few seconds as compared to going to a library going through a card catalogue to get to the specific book we need.
Preparing dinner is now quick and easy through a microwave oven as compared to lighting up the stove, heating up the pan and cooking your meal.
Communication moves in lightning speed. Sending a letter is now as swift as blinking your eyes compared to getting an envelope, sticking a stamp and going to the post office send your mail.
Reading news is no longer through the paper bought from a newsstand but via Twitter that gives an update every minute.
It’s a completely different world. But unfortunately, it also has rewired the way we approach life. Because we are used to getting things quick, we feel incomplete and unresolved when we don’t.
And teaching our children to wait has become more complicated and arduous.
Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward based on a greater value.
Psychology Today wrote an article last year that explained it this way.
“In 1970 psychologist Walter Mischel famously placed a cookie in front of a group of children and gave them a choice: they could eat the cookie immediately, or they could wait until he returned from a brief errand and then be rewarded with a second. If they didn’t wait, however, they’d be allowed to eat only the first one. Not surprisingly, once he left the room, many children ate the cookie almost immediately. A few, though, resisted eating the first cookie long enough to receive the second.
Interestingly, the children who were best able to delay gratification subsequently did better in school and had fewer behavioral problems than the children who could only resist eating the cookie for a few minutes—and, further, ended up on average with SAT scores that were 210 points higher. As adults, the high-delay children completed college at higher rates than the other children and then went on to earn higher incomes. In contrast, the children who had the most trouble delaying gratification had higher rates of incarceration as adults and were more likely to struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.”
We need to help our children learn this trait. The earlier they get this, the less heartaches they will experience in the future.
One of the most effective ways to distract our kids from a tempting pleasure is to focus on another pleasure that is based on a greater value.
As Roy Disney said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
By not eating one cookie before dinner, I can have 2 after dinner.
Because I did not spend my money impulsively on a cheaper yet flimsy toy, I can buy a nicer and better one.
If i discipline myself to wake up early to exercise rather than sleep in, I feel
better physically and emotionally.
By keeping my purity before marriage, I end up enjoying greater intimacy with my future spouse without the unnecessary heartaches.
Presenting a greater value to the one that is right before us may seem abstract at the moment but once we wrap our heads around it, we will realize that it is a way better choice.