The Marshmallow Test May Predict Lifelong Success

Monday - December 01, 2014

According to The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control, there may be a means of measuring likely self-control and predicting lifelong success, and doing it when kids are relatively young (under age five!).

Can parents, psychologists, and/or healthcare professionals determine how intelligent children are -- and will continue to be -- before they finish preschool? According to The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control, there may be a means of measuring likely self-control and predicting lifelong success, and doing it when kids are relatively young (under age five!).

What Is The Marshmallow Test?
During the years 1968 through 1974, psychologist Walter Mischel assessed the habits of 600 preschool children from Bing Nursery School in Palo Alto, Calif. The test began with a four year old, and a researcher who asked the child if they would like a marshmallow, pretzel stick, or cookie. 

"The researcher would then place the treat in front of the child -- we'll assume the marshmallow is chosen -- saying, 'You can have this one marshmallow any time you want it, but if you don't eat it and wait until I return, then you can have two.' The researcher then left the room for 15 minutes," The Sioux City Journal explains. The children exhibited a range of self-control; one-third immediately devoured their treat, another third waited a few minutes before giving in, and the final third waited the 15 minutes to get another treat.

What was most remarkable, however, was a follow-up study of the same participants years later. Mischel's new study revealed that kids who had waited the 15 minutes so many years ago were well-adjusted teenagers and adults, with better friendships, less stress, fewer vices and addictions, and the top SAT scores.

What Can Parents Do?
Mischel's ground-breaking test may have some parents offering their children marshmallows and celebrating (or throwing in the towel) based on the results. There is good news, however. Intelligence, self-control, creativity, and more can be taught, and children are much more likely to develop these critical skills if they attend private preschools or private child care. Children who attend private academy schools and take part in day care activities grow up wealthier and healthier than their peers.

The first few years are critical to children's development. Private academy schools, summer child care, and child care facilities can help take advantage of the years when kids learn the most and are their most active.

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