I know it’s Trick ‘R’ Treat Season but it seems that there is candy everywhere I look!

As I passed a gigantic bag of marshmallows at the local store, it got me thinking back to the Stanford University Marshmallow Tests of the 1960’s – have you heard of them?

They’re a great way of testing whether your kid is a saver or a spender by nature!

During the test Professor Walter Mischel would sit children (between 4-6) at a table and make this simple statement. If they could sit with a marshmallow in front of them for fifteen minutes without eating it, they would be given two treats at the end of the time period.

Naturally, some of the kids jumped at the chance for instant gratification and ate the treat straight away – but others succeeded in overcoming temptation and their reward for patience was double the bounty! Two marshmallows instead of just one!

Further research found that the kids that chose to delay gratification scored better academic results, earned higher salaries, and were less prone to obesity throughout their lives.

From a financial education standpoint, I think that conducting your own Marshmallow Test is a fun way to start a money conversation with your child.

Will your child grab the candy within seconds? Will they squirm around a bit before popping it in their mouth or will they sit patiently waiting for the double payoff?

However they react, it will tell you something about their thought process and help you to understand whether or not you need to teach them more about delayed gratification.

Irrespective of whether they choose instant gratification over self-control, chat with them about their choice and explain that sometimes it really pays to have patience.

For example, saving money works in much the same way as the test. If they can practice some self-control and save their money rather than spend it, then they’ll see their savings earn interest and really grow over time!

Now that’s a test everyone would like to ace!


PennyOwl: Helping Parents Raise Money Smart Kids

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