Thursday, December 15, 2016
On Delaying Gratification
Even for someone like me who is not really a soft toy lover, this yellow 'ball' occupies a special place in my heart. So imagine the joy on Dolly's face when she found this Chicky Mega in a store one day, a few months ago. I was not with her, but I knew she must have squealed in delight.
She wanted to buy it immediately. If not, it must be one of her birthday presents. When we did not promise, she asked if Santa could make sure this would be one of her Christmas presents. Of course we could not promise on behalf of Santa.
She reluctantly put it back on the shelf. But being the obedient and sensible little girl, she did not protest more. Usually when it comes to situations like this, when her desires and ours do not align, we try to explain our reasons as patiently as possible, with the belief that she will understand. And more often than not, she could usually understand our points of view.
The first few times she followed me to a convenience store, she was delighted to discover the wide range of chocolates and sweet treats available for selection. After asking me a few times if she could try this or that and met with responses such as "yes, but you must wait till your birthday or Xmas etc..." she learnt very quickly that mummy would not readily say yes.
Nowadays, she would still be admiring every bar of chocolate she could find while I was in the queue. And every now and again, she would ask if she could have this or that bar on her 6th or 7th or 8th birthday but they were more like rhetorical questions. Haha...
I supposed it is all because we have always explained our rationale and reasons for our decisions to the kids, even to the Dolly when she was just a wee tot, we do not get over-the-top tantrums from all three of them. They have learnt to a large extent, that they can make requests and wishes but it is up to us to grant them.
As a parent, I think teaching them to delay gratification is a great virtue and will help them regulate their own emotions in the long run. Here is an interesting read on 40 years of Stanford research that found people with the ability to delay gratification are more likely to succeed.