Delaying Gratification – How My Son Eats His Marshmallows

My son typically eats lots of organic fruit and waffles or toast for breakfast. Some mornings he eats yogurt or cereal and on the mornings when he eats cereal he typically eats Cheerios. I usually fix him a tiny bowl with a few spoonfuls of milk and then fix a larger bowl for myself. Of course, he always prefers my cereal to his own, even when I show him that they came from the same box and the same carton of milk.

One morning I ran out of Cheerios and fixed myself a bowl of Lucky Charms. For the record Lucky Charms are my weakness. I eat them as a late afternoon snack or even for dinner if I haven’t prepared something else tasty and nutritious.

I could see my son’s eyes light up at the colorful marshmallows in my bowl, so I dipped my spoon in and offered him a scoop of it. He gobbled it up, so I placed a few more scoops into his bowl and watched him eat.

He used a combination of his spoon and fingers to pull out every piece of cereal leaving all of the marshmallows for last. I thought it might be a fluke at first so I pulled out three or four pieces of cereal and one marshmallow and placed them on his plate. Sure enough he ate all of the cereal first, leaving the marshmallow as his very last bite. Every time I tried the experiment he ate it the exact same way.

This isn’t exactly the same as the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, but I do wonder if it is the first of many insights into my son’s personality.  I am often able to delay short term gains in an effort to ensure longer term goals and I wonder if my son will have similar abilities. I am a saver by nature and I attribute a lot of my thrifty ways to my ability to delay gratification.

If the marshmallow is the tastiest part of the cereal wouldn’t most children eat it first and then ask for more? I’m not sure if my son’s behavior is atypical but I really would like to know if he will be the type of person who can wait to obtain the things in life he desires.

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