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One Marshmallow Or Two?

As a rule of thumb I try to use creativity in every aspect of my life. One area that I have noticed that it helps the most is parenting.  I can’t say I deserve the title of ‘World’s best Mom’, but I try to be the best parent for Rae and I put all I have into it.  I truly believe if I try and approach it like I would other goals then I am off to a good start. When I have a goal I use creative problem solving when faced with an obstacle. I am trying to do the same with my parenting, so far it gets me way further then hollering and throwing tantrums.. which on occasion I do anyways, because at time I am a one marshmallow person (explained below).

It is important to me that I teach Rae to set goals, strive for dreams and work hard. These things are qualities I value extremely high.  This was something that has been a great help in teaching those lessons in our home.  Besides.. I need reminders too, and this helps me as well.

A year or so ago I read this study that was done in the 70’s at Stanford.  They took children one by one into a room and gave them a marshmallow.  These children were told that if they did not eat it that in fifteen minutes someone would come back in they give them another one and they could then eat two marshmallows.  Some children ate them right away not caring about the second marshmallow and others did all they could to resist and hold out so they could have two.

They followed the children through their lives and tracked the difference in how the children that wonted immediate gratification (one marshmallow) versus the delayed gratification children (2 marshmallows) differed.  The results were significant. Those that had been a two marshmallow child had higher test scores and were overall considered more successful.

When I told Rae this story it didn’t sink in at first, but now I use it as an easy reminder and metal picture of making the choices that really benefit us in the long run.  When faced with a choice we often say ‘What is the two marshmallow choice?’ and when she is really being a pain, all I have to do is say ‘That’s a one marshmallow choice’.  I have to chuckle because if I say that to her, it will affect her more than anything else I can say, yell or threaten.  She typically corrects her behavior on the spot!

I have used this to teach setting goals, eating healthy, behaving at school and even cleaning up the rooms.  I am not saying it produces a perfect child, but it gives her something to think about and visualize and faced with a choice between what she wants right now and what she really wants.

To give her a quick no talking pep-talk all I have to do is hand her two marshmallows and a wink. She knows that this means she is being a pretty awesome person and making some great choices.

I would love to hear any creative parenting you have used. Do you have secret codes, stories and words you use to correct your child’s behavior?

1 comment:

  1. My cousin did this (as one of the children's pastors with her church) a few years ago:

    LOVE it. I love how you use it as a great quick visual with Rae.... I may try it with my kids!