Train this simple skill to set your child for success in life!
If you want to do whatever it takes to help your child to have a happy and healthy life, then teach them to delay gratification! Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward. Basically, delayed gratification is an ability of a nervous system to deal with stress. A growing body of research suggests that there is a link between delayed gratification and social, emotional, physical health, and academic success. Based on my experience working with hundreds of children, the link is very strong.
Delayed gratification is a trainable skill. Through environment, we can strengthen a child’s ability to delay gratification or weaken it. Unfortunately, the environment offered to our children today takes them on the wrong path. They are being raised in the world of constant immediate gratification. Therefore, it is not surprising that so many kids today are lacking this skill and can’t resist their desire to get whatever they want the moment they want it which negatively impacts on their academic, social, and emotional skills.
Is it possible to improve delayed gratification?
Sure! It is not only possible but also essential to put a conscious effort into developing kids’ delayed gratification skill.
Did our parents work consciously on developing our delayed gratification?
Most likely not. As children, we lived in the world of delayed gratification and life itself trained us to wait.
How to develop kids’ delayed gratification skill?
CHORES, CHORES, CHORES! Daily chores!
Making a bed, setting a dinner table, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, watering plants, loading/unloading dishwasher, feeding a pet, sorting/folding laundry, and even washing cars.
Let kids be BORED! Screens shouldn’t be used as a solution to ‘I am bored!’
Avoid TECHNOLOGY use in cars and restaurants, and instead, teach them WAITING while talking and playing games
Use ‘FIRST’, ‘THEN’ concept. ’First’- tidy up toys, ‘then’ - play ball
Limit constant snacking and structure routine meal times
Teach kids collecting stickers/points towards a reward
Play with kids board games to teach waiting for turns
Play movement games
The Freeze Game, Simon Says, Statue, Stop and Go
Teach kids activities that require putting a continuous effort to achieve results
Woodworking, gardening, fishing, sewing, working with clay, ceramic painting, making a mosaic, coloring by number/color, building blanket forts, making handmade greeting cards, and scrapbooking
Don’t rush to help, let them work through a problem
Incorporate opportunities for delayed gratification into everyday life situations:
If your child had a party and got lots of birthday presents – make a deal of opening one present per day/week instead of all at once
If you went shopping with your child and bought cookies/toys/candy etc. Make a deal of having it at home rather than in the car
If your child asks you to turn on music in a car, make a deal – first let’s count 10 stop signs and then turn on music
Great things happen to those who wait!
Victoria Prooday, OT