In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a famous experiment at Stanford University. He put several 4 year-old children in a room by themselves, placed a marshmallow in front of each of them and gave them this choice:
"You can have the marshmallow now or you can wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows."
The majority of the children showed self control and resisted the temptation of eating the marshmallow right away. (Which means some children weren't able to wait 15 minutes!) Follow-up studies were conducted on the children when they grew older. Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, the children who had resisted eating the marshmallow had better grades, were healthier and better at managing stress than the children who yielded to temptation.
Even if the results of these studies are not 100% dependable, it does stand to reason that having self-control and the ability to delay gratification are important qualities to have. Try this activity with your kids! It'll be fun and also a great opportunity to teach them about self-control. The importance of not yielding to temptation and the lesson of delaying gratification (i.e. saving money for the future) cannot be understated.
But don't worry, even if your kids eat the marshmallow right away, there is no need for concern! Self-control can be taught and trained over time!