Our job as Parents is not to do what is easy!
Following on from my review of the great book The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genes, Talent and Intelligence is Wrong: The New Science of Genes, Talent and Human Potential by David Shenk, I have some information about a great piece of learning for me.
I have always known that as parents our job is not to do what is easy, but to do what is right and I have suspected that we need to step back more and allow our children to fail; this was all affirmed in the book. I also suspected that giving in too easily could have massive consequences later on in life, but I was not sure why until I read this book and then it all made sense.
The book talks about an experiment involving children and marshmallows. The children were left in the room and told that they could have one marshmallow now or wait a while and have two. I don’t want go into the ins and outs of the experiment but the interesting bit came when they went back to the children later on in life and found that the ones who waited and had two marshmallows had far exceeded academically those who ate the marshmallow straight away.
What this study showed was that children who could delay gratification early in life were more likely to be able to put in the persistence required to succeed in life.
It affirmed for me that frequent rewards will not give children this persistence as they will give up too easily. And delayed gratification is an early indication for a tendency towards self discipline needed to do well in exams. Interestingly, the study also found that the children who delayed their marshmallow eating craving also had fewer social problems.
What they also found in the study was that children can be taught to delay gratification, for example being told to think of the marshmallows as pictures and to not see them as real decreased the number of children who ate the marshmallow straight away.
In a world where everything is instant, it is so important for us as parents to think of how we can teach our children to wait.
Here are some tips from the book on teaching delayed gratification.
1. Be a model of self-control
Show your children how to do it by not giving in to all your wants and desires.
2. Help them practice
Give them opportunities to practice and wait for things.
3. Don’t give in to everyday pleas
Just because your child wants it now does not mean you should give it. Don’t give in so easily.
4. Let them deal with frustration so they can teach themselves
Don’t rush in to make a sad child happy; let them learn for themselves how to deal with frustration.
And my gem from the book…
True failure is to give up and sell your children short.
We are not supposed to make things easy for our children, we need to present the problem, monitor their response and moderate the behaviour for next time.