Monday, March 19, 2012

Marshmallow Mother

I am trying to be a marshmallow mother and teach my kids to wait, not only wait, but wait patiently.

In the late 1960's Walter Mischel devises the "marshmallow test" when he was at Stanford. In this experiment a teacher leads four and five year olds into a room where there is a marshmallow on a table. The teacher tells the child that he's going to leave the room for a while and he tells the child that if he can wait to eat the marshmallow then when the teacher comes back he can have two marshmallows, but if he eats the marshmallow then he only gets one. They tested 653 and only one in three managed to resist eating the marshmallow for the whole fifteen minute wait. When the video of these kids was studied he noticed that the kids who ate before the teacher came back only focused on the marshmallow, but those who waited distracted themselves by singing songs, playing with their toes or ears in an interesting way. Mischel says "having the willpower to wait isn't about being stoic. It's about learning techniques that make waiting less frustrating. There are many ways of doing that, of which the most direct and the simplest is to self-distract."

There are so many things that as a mother I want to educate my children with and among those it is the ability to wait. I find it best that if the parents have to wait for things, it is much easier for my children to wait for things also. We just have to occupy our minds with other things of a more important nature.

Usually I just get looked at like this when I tell him to wait. We still have a ways to go before I can call myself a marshmallow mom.

I have loved reading Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. It has given me reason to keep on trying.


Penny said...

Sometimes it's even possible to enjoy the anticipation. I've had a couple of experiences really wanting something to come to pass that eventually doesn't pan out and then I see I'm more disappointed that the feeling of dreamy wishing and fantacizing has vanished. BUT, mostly, just let me at that marshmallow! I'll lick my chops in the moment. Won't be the last marshmallow I will ever have in my clutches.

The Colors of Life said...

Good Read.. I was just passing by and saw your blog... Patience is a virtue I'd say... And I would want to have my young one have it...More of it than I and my better half have :)

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Julie, this post is beautiful and just what I needed to read. I love it.