What could a simple marshmallow teach kids about delayed gratification? This Financial Adventure Activity takes the Marshmallow Experiment to another level.
Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to teach your kids and teens just how much they could benefit in different situations utilizing delayed gratification? The basis behind the Marshmallow Experiment is this: You can eat one marshmallow now, or if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later. This was an experiment done by Dr. Walter Mischel that was conducted with preschoolers to show at an early age just how hard it is to wait for something better.
Watch a video about this experiment here.
A little summary about the experiment: Children were given the choice of eating one marshmallow whenever they wanted, or if they could wait 15 minutes, they were rewarded with two marshmallows. The children began to spontaneously show dramatic changes in their ability to control their impulses. The children who were able to wait for the two marshmallows showed creative ways to try to distract themselves from the temptation of eating the marshmallow. Mischel continued to study the test subjects for years and he discovered that as a whole the preschoolers able to wait for the two marshmallows over the course of their lives had a lower BMI, lower rates of addiction, a lower divorce rate and higher SAT scores and were able to handle stress when pursuing their goals.
The Financial Adventure Delayed Gratification Activity allows you to take the basis of this experiment and create a similar experience for your kids and teens.
First, decide what you would like to use for your experiment. Will a marshmallow be enough for your younger children or will you need to find something a little more appealing for your older teenagers? Possible items could be marshmallows, money, treats or even events.
Second, explain to your child how the activity is going to work. Let them know that they can have the first item…or if they wait 15 minutes (or a set amount of time you select) that item could double and would be a great benefit to them.
Third…the waiting begins. This could actually be harder on you than it is on your children 😉
Lastly, after the activity has finished analyze your results. Did your child show they had the willpower to hold off and achieve the second item? Discuss their actions. If they were not able to wait ask them about how beneficial it would have been if they would have waited. If they did master the activity be sure to talk to them about their benefits as well. In either case, make sure you stress the benefits of delayed gratification you can achieve throughout their lives…especially as an adult. Imagine if they saved their money for a certain item they wanted rather than taking out a loan or charging it on a credit card and paying all the interest in addition to the original cost.
Don’t stop this activity at only once. Try it over the course of your kid’s and teen’s lives and see if there are any improvements, but keep the conversations going with them about the benefits.
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