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Torturing Kids with Marshmallows

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Can we really predict children's success by their ability NOT to eat a marshmallow? Experts say yes.

It's a very simple test: a child is given a marshmallow and told if they don't eat it, they'll get another one. Then the tempted child is observed and made to wait an excruciating (for a child) 15 or 20 minutes. If, during that time, the kid doesn't succumb to temptation, he's awarded his 2nd puffy treat.

Besides stuffing kids with unneeded sweets, the experiment is meant to test a child's level of impulse control, or deferred gratification. In the original experiment, first devised by Walter Mischel in 1960, the 4-year-old children who participated were then observed for 14 years.
According to the data from Mischel's research, 100% of the children who didn't give into their sugar craving ended up doing well in school, and scored an average of 210 points higher on SAT tests. On the flip side, 80% of the children who couldn't wait had problems in school, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships.

To be fair, I don't even know if some moms could pass the test -- that is, if wine were substituted for marshmallows.  

Do you think YOUR kid would pass the marshmallow test?

next: Yale Lab Worker Arrested in Student's Killing, Police Say
47 comments so far | Post a comment now
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