In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Pamela Druckerman, author of the book “Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,” asked the following question, “Could it be that teaching children how to delay gratification – as middle-class French parents do – actually makes them calmer and more resilient?”
There’s no question that delayed gratification should not be ignored. Children need to learn how to wait – whether it’s waiting for their parent’s attention or waiting for a reward. Patience and self-control are attributes that can be cultivated by delayed gratification.
Three examples of ignoring the importance of delayed gratification come to mind.
1. Kids are being allowed to snack throughout the day.
2. They are demanding (and receiving) their parent’s attention when that parent is talking to another adult, in person or on the phone. ‘
3. And perhaps the most significant, tweens and teens are borrowing money to buy a want, not waiting until the money has been earned.
Problems can arise when children aren’t taught delayed gratification. They are missing the opportunity to learn patience and self-control.
Let’s go back to the three examples…
1. When continual snacking is allowed, a child is less likely to eat the well-balanced meal at mealtime. It’s a vicious cycle. One snack in the afternoon is sufficient for a healthy child eating three meals a day.
2. The child who is allowed to interrupt a conversation wrongly believes his or her question, or comment, or perceived need is more important that anything else. That kind of attitude is very unhealthy and can be carried into adulthood.
3. Those early loans, given to the tweens and teens by mom or dad, can set the pattern for young adults living beyond their means.
The conclusion is simple. Teach your children delayed gratification. It will serve them well throughout life!
What are ways you have taught your children delayed gratification?