Healthy kids? Teach Them to Wait for the Marshmallow.

Watch The Marshmallow Test

By IgniterMedia Published on Sep 24, 2009

The small room was nearly empty. In it sat a square wooden table, and a plain wooden chair. On the chair sat a four-year-old boy, feet swinging, forehead resting on his arms, face hidden. He was singing softly to himself, trying to distract himself from what sat on the table in front of him; a single, sweet, square, white, tasty marshmallow.

He was part of an experiment that involved dozens of four year olds, and it went like this. The children were brought, one at a time, into the empty room where they saw the marshmallow. Then they were told the experimenter had to leave and would be back in a few minutes. They could eat the marshmallow now, or, if they could wait for him to return, they could have two marshmallows when he came back.

As you might imagine, some of the children ate the marshmallow right away, but some of the children were able to wait as long as 20 minutes, in an empty room, to receive their reward of two marshmallows. Some would turn the chair around and face away from the table. Some would close their eyes, tell themselves stories and sing to themselves.

They could wait. They had the capacity to delay immediate gratification to receive a greater reward at a later time.

Can you do that?

The children in the Marshmallow Study were interviewed again upon high school graduation, and the ability to delay gratification proved to be a better predictor of academic successes than I.Q. or S.A.T. test scores!

Thank you Kathy Radina, M. Ed. for the piece.

Leave a Reply