Worth The Wait?
Since it is the start of a new year and many of us are trying to give up bad habits and start healthy routines, I thought this post may be well timed. Besides being a busy farmgirl, I am also a speech and language pathologist. Every two years, my profession requires that I accumulate 30 hours of continuing education credit to maintain my state and national licensure. Most of the classes focus on improving speech and language skills in children and adults; however, sometimes, the focus is on cognitive-communication or thinking skills. These thinking skills are also referred to as executive functions (located in the frontal lobe of the brain): planning and problem solving, motivation regulation, verbal working memory, sustained attention, response inhibition, emotional control, etc. Anyway, last month, I signed up for a class called, “Improving Self-Regulation and Effective Learning Through Executive Functions.”
During the course of the day, the instructor addressed something known as “The Marshmallow Test.” Some of you may be familiar with this study. The premise is simple: You can eat one marshmallow now or, if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later. It’s an experiment in self-control conducted by psychologist Dr. Walter Mischel. It began in the early 1960s at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School. Mischel and his graduate students gave children the choice between one reward–a marshmallow they could eat immediately, and a larger reward–two marshmallows for which they would have to wait alone, for up to 20 minutes. What Mischel discovered many years later, after following up with the Bing preschoolers, was that the children who had waited for the second marshmallow generally fared better in life. For instance, the children who were able to delay eating the first marshmallow usually earned higher SAT scores and had a lower body mass index 30 years following the initial Marshmallow Test.
Now, don’t panic! If you were the kid who ate the marshmallow in the first 10 seconds, there’s still hope. Further studies have shown that self-control can be taught. That is why the wonderful and educational Sesame Street created a video illustrating the importance of waiting, with who else, but Cookie Monster? It’s called, “Me Want It (But Me Wait).” And, I have to say, this video completely cracked me up. Although its audience is children, I’m fairly sure anyone could benefit from the strategies for better self-control.
Here’s the thing: Just because we may have gobbled down the marshmallow as children, doesn’t mean we can’t successfully meet our goals as adults. So, next time you’re trying to self-regulate and delay self-gratification, just think of Cookie Monster and his strategies for waiting. I hope the background on these two adorable and hilarious videos was helpful and that you enjoy them as much as I did. Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions! 🙂
Categories: Speech and Language Pathology