The Marshmallow Experiment
In 1960, more than 600 children between the ages of 4 and 6 at the Penn Preschool, run by the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, were tested by the famous psychologist Professor Michel. He invited these children to the child psychology laboratory and gave them a choice of a prize on the table, including marshmallows, cookies or pretzels, etc. They could choose to eat them immediately or to wait a while before eating them, and if they chose to wait a while before eating, they would receive a double reward.
The study found that different children showed different levels of self-control, with some children having long delays and others having short delays, with the average delay being about fifteen to twenty minutes. Twenty years later, Professor Michel followed up with some of the children who took the test at that time, and he unexpectedly found that there was a strong correlation between a child’s delay time and future academic and career success.
Of course, a person’s development is full of infinite possibilities, and it is difficult to predict his or her future success based only on his or her performance on a psychological test in childhood. But Professor Michel’s contribution makes us realize that willpower may have an important impact on a person’s future success.
What does a person’s self-control have to do with?
Brain development: The physiological basis of self-control originates in the prefrontal cortex, which determines a person’s cognitive control. However, the development of the prefrontal cortex is relatively slow, and it is generally not fully developed until the age of 20 or so. So children are not as determined as adults in the face of temptation and are unable to control their behavior, which are themselves related to the underdevelopment of this region.
Gender differences: Girls have a relatively higher capacity for self-control than boys. This has to do with the child’s brain structure and hormone levels, etc.
Genes: Some children are naturally active and lively, while others are naturally introverted and stable, which is related to the temperament type of the child’s genes.
Self-awareness level: Some neuroscientists believe that although we have only one brain, but there are two “selves”, one self is arbitrary and timely, and one self is to overcome impulses, far-sighted. What we call poor self-control is often due to the fact that the arbitrary self is controlling our behavior, and this control is unconscious, so we do not know.
Emotions: When a child is in a certain emotional state, such as anxiety, fear, excitement or a certain state of stress, it can lead to low self-control. Imagine when we are stressed at work, we tend to give up our diet plan and overeat. When a person is stressed, the brain automatically directs us to do something that makes us feel happy, and this is when the brain is easily tempted.
Growing up in an environment where parents interfere excessively with their children’s development, do not give them enough autonomy or do not give them proper guidance, can also lead to self-control problems. Children lose the space and opportunity to control themselves, and naturally this aspect of their ability cannot be exercised.
How to improve your child’s self-control
Scholars such as Freud and Montessori also have the view that childhood affects the whole life. So how can we train and improve our children’s self-control?
People without great ambition cannot achieve great things. People with ambition have a different pattern and pursue different things, and their lifetime achievements will be different.
Timely repair, for the body and mind to store energy
Psychologists have shown that self-control is a very meaningful psychological power, but it is also a psychological power that can easily be depleted, when a person continuously carry out tasks that require the consumption of self-control, the subsequent ability to complete similar things will also decline, so when we feel low energy, physical strength, which is actually the brain and body to send us an overload alarm, at this time to force the spirit of support This is the easiest way to repair and replenish your physical and mental energy in time. For children, it is very important to avoid overworking and to get enough sleep.
Active participation in physical exercise
Chairman Mao once said, “If you want to civilize your spirit, you must first barbarize your body”. When we are challenging our physical limits, we are also challenging our mental limits, and the constant stimulation of the body and mind may make us gradually adapt, and after adaptation our self-control will naturally be improved. Parents are advised to encourage their children to participate in outdoor sports, such as running, soccer, rope skipping, etc., while studying.
Challenge yourself to do something you are not good at
By consistently doing things that you don’t feel comfortable with or don’t want to do, you can also exercise self-control. People can’t just do what they want to do in life, more is a necessity. Challenging oneself is also an important means of practicing self-control. Of course, parents should pay attention to the gradual progress in this regard, many parents are strict with their children, set too high goals for children, think that this can stimulate the potential of children, in fact, too much pressure but let people in the anxiety, fear and other negative emotions under the influence of self-control, and encouragement, support, care and other spiritual support can effectively offset the consumption of self-control resources, so that the child has been tired of something more willing to choose persevere.
Keep away from temptation and weaken emotional reactions
It is an unchangeable fact that children are less resistant to many things than adults due to age limitations, so parents should help their children stay away from temptations and things that distract, distract and disturb them, such as creating a comfortable and quiet learning environment for their children, and not playing mahjong or watching TV next to them while they are reading, if parents can also read a book quietly. If parents can also read a book quietly, I believe that children can also maintain a longer period of enthusiasm for learning.