Santa is the Ultimate Marshmallow
I love the marshmallow theory and practice it with my kids wherever possible.
Marshmallow refers to an set of experiments on self control by Walter Mischell at Stanford in the 70’s. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards (i.e., a larger later reward) if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes in this case. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures. (Not including number of Facebook friends!).
And I thought my parents were just messing with me… Only recently did I realize the story of Santa is the greatest Marshmallow Test of all time. It probably helped me learn a bit about waiting for it.
My kids are of prime Santa- influence age. We practice counting by turning the Advent calendar day by day. We have an Elf on the Shelf to keep close score of behaviors and report back to the north pole. We trimmed the tree with candy canes, but don’t eat them (much). We wrapped presents, but had to send them to the NorthPole for safe keeping until the big day. In an on-demand world of Tinder, Seamless web, and Uber (thats another post!), here’s an old-school way of teaching kids something. And maybe we can all learn a bit about delayed gratification.
I can’t wait to see the kids SAT scores in twelve years; they’re gonna be great! Merry Christmas.