Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teaching Delayed Gratification Skills

I believe that delayed gratification is an important life skill. This week I began working on developing this skill with our four year old daughter. However, my daughter is still not old enough to really understand the concept of money. So I'm using a substitute for money.

As background, my daughter has a big sweet tooth. To her, the four major food groups are: Cookies, Candy, Cake and Chocolate Milk. However, since my spouse majored in food science, we invest a lot of effort in healthier meals.

Although our daughter does trick or treat for Halloween, we're not big fans of letting her have all the candy. Most of it has been put away with our stored foods, since we prefer her to eat more healthy foods. Our daughter knows her candy does exist in the house and, at times, can be overly focused on getting some sweets.

Although I think it's good to manage children's healthy eating habits, I also believe that our daughter needs to develop her own capability to limit eating sweets. Last weekend with the agreement of my spouse, I told our daughter that she was old enough to begin managing some of her own candy. She was very excited and got to pick 4 pieces of candy to eat for the week, which was stored in a container she keeps. There are also a few rules, e.g. candy can only be eaten after a meal, and after completing must do tasks such as getting dressed in the morning. I'm also participating in the process by selecting a couple of pieces that I'm allowed to eat during the same period, which I store where our daughter can see them.

For this week, she made it through Wednesday lunch before finishing all the candy and gum. Our daughter understands that she needs to wait until Sunday, before the next allotment of candy. It will be interesting to see how she acts today, now that her candy has all been eaten. My hope is that she won't be asking for more candy and start learning to ration what she has received, especially with the example that I've been able to make my allotment last longer.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

This is not financial or parenting advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

1 comment:

Carlos said...

As a child I was always a saver. Anything I received (money, candy) I horded for a rainy day.

My brother on the other hand would consume or spend immediately. The annoying part was after his treat was gone he'd come looking for mine.