How to teach your child delayed gratification
The ability to be patient is a great skill everyone should possess. It is actually best to begin grooming this trait in your preschoolers. Not every child will naturally choose to wait or be tolerant; hence imbibing delayed gratification is key.
Learning to control our immediate impulses means the ability to pause and figure out whether a purchase is really worthwhile. Taming also helps us understand that we can have (almost) anything we want, but we can’t have everything we want. Teaching your kid to tame that voice that says now-now-now is important, as long as the lessons are age-appropriate and consistent.
As a parent, there is need to teach your child to tame his impulses – and not just because it’s annoying when he keeps pleading for more of his demands, it is to help him become a competent, successful human, rather than being an annoying character solely driven by his desires.
To help your child be a delayed gratifier, try the popular ‘marshmallow experiments’ conducted by Walter Mischel and a team of researchers at Stanford University in the early 1970s. They gave preschoolers a choice to eat one marshmallow now, or wait 15 minutes and you’ll get two marshmallows.
From the children who participated in the test at the time, the researchers realised that over the years, they coped better with their emotional skills, had higher rates of educational attainment, lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and lower rates of addiction.
However, while some children are born with better self-control, this can also be learned with effective strategies. Here are a few ways to teach your child to help your child imbibe delayed gratification:
Giving your child his own money is one of the most fundamental ways to teach him how to make smart decisions. Often, this means encouraging your child to manage his own money within a parent-defined framework. This will not only teach him to save but to also save for what he wants.
Help your child learn from his successes and failures. Have a hands-off approach to the choices your child makes, let him decide his choices and deal with the consequences of his action. Likewise, celebrate successes, too. Let your child know that you’re aware of how tough it can be to resist all the bright and shiny objects in the supermarket in order to get that one toy they actually wanted.
Let your child see the money on the table: Literally speaking your child should see your income and then you begin to do the math on bills for the month. The idea isn’t to get your child worried about the family’s financial well-being but to reinforce money lessons.
It’s important to budget for commitments including monthly expenses and savings before buying fun stuff. Hence you must make sure your expenses don’t exceed your income and since expenses can vary, it’s important to have an emergency fund.
A crucial life skill is knowing how to handle money and sometimes that means knowing how not to spend it. This isn’t an easy lesson, so you need to model it consistently. If you don’t, your kids might grow up thinking that debt is both normal and inevitable.
Delayed gratification is a key component of financial independence and a great life skill for excellence.