Delayed Gratification in an Age of Overindulgence By David Bredehoft

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Delayed Gratification in an age of overindulgence www.overindulgence.info

I WANT IT NOW! This seems to be today’s mantra!  “And if I don’t get the things I am after……… I’M GOING TO SCREAM!

Can you believe it, there’s even a FaceBook page devoted to “I Want It Now”!  I think we should listen to our mothers. You know, the message that says: “patience is a virtue”. 


it is difficult for today’s parents to teach delayed gratification  especially since we live in an instant gratification world where children are bombarded by marketers as early as age one.   

CHILDREN BY AGE ONE: 

ü  36% have touched or scrolled a screen;

ü  24% have called someone;

ü  52% have watched TV;

ü  1 in 7 toddlers were on mobile media at least one hour a day;

ü  According to a recent survey of 2,290 U.S. parents 53% of all 6-year-olds have their own mobile phone and;

ü  Teens spend nearly nine hours every day consuming media.

All of these are direct marketing avenues which encourage the “I Wants!” and “The Gimme Gimmies” making your job as a parent even harder (download free handout written by Jean Illsley Clarke titled: How to Say “No” to Your Kids).


WHAT IS DELAYED GRATIFICATION?

If you Google the term, “Delayed gratification, or deferred gratification, is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward.” 


TRY THIS EXPERIMENT WITH YOUR 5-YEAR-OLD

Sit your child at a table and put a plate with a treat such as marshmallows in front of him. Tell him that you have to go into the next room for a while, and if when you come back he has not eaten the marshmallow, he will get two. If he eats the one before you get back (in 15 minutes), that’s all he will get. What do you think your child will do?



RESEARCH ON DELAYED GRATIFICATION

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More than 40 years ago Walter Mischel conducted a simple but effective test on self-control which has become known as “The Marshmallow Test”. "It is really the story of resistance to temptation — the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden — that I was interested in. So that’s how the marshmallow test was born”.

Follow-ups of children who had self-control and waited for a second marshmallow were far more successful in life than the children who ate the single marshmallow right away. In follow-up tests the High Delayers fared far better than the Instant Gratifiers. Over time the High Delayers had:

- higher SAT scores;

- lower levels of substance abuse;

- lower likelihood of obesity (lower BMI 30 years later),

- better response to stress;

- better social skills (as reported by parents);

- less aggressive and better able to  control their own reactions;

- different brain structure (the prefrontal cortex was more highly developed in the delayers compared to the instant-gratifiers at age 40).


THE CHILD WHO DELAYS GRATIFICATION IS NOT AN OVERINDULGED CHILD

Judith Wright quote on instant gratification edited-1

In our eighth study on overindulgence we found that childhood overindulgence leads to the inability to delay gratification, ungratefulness, an increase in materialistic values, and overall unhappiness in adulthood. Conversely, if individuals are not overindulged as a children, they are more likely to delay gratification, feel grateful, have fewer materialistic urges, and be happy.


Get help on avoiding overindulgence in How Much is Too Much? Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children – From Toddlers To Teens – In An Age of Overindulgence (2014, DaCapo Press Lifelong Books).


Photos by Fotolia, David Bredehoft, quotes from BrainyQuote.com, Examining ‘The Marshmallow Test’ from CBS posted on YouTube

© David J. Bredehoft, Jean Illsley Clarke & Connie Dawson 2004-2018;  bredehoft@csp.edu, jiconsults@aol.com