One of the many things I love about Wisconsin is the wealth of programming on Wisconsin Public Radio. One of the programs I get to hear sometimes is Zorba Paster on Your Health. It’s a talk show with fun, friendly, and highly credible health information from an entertaining expert. During Saturday’s show, Dr. Paster talked about a recent long-term study showing that children who couldn’t delay gratification were much more likely to be obese when older. He talked about the obesity epidemic among American children and suggested that parents could help by training kids to not expect instant gratification. He said this is one of the most important duties parents have. I agree, for basic self-control is so important for success later in life. Sadly, too many parents neglect this and let kids think that they should get whatever they want – and NOW. Big mistake.
- “Self-regulation and Rapid Weight Gain in Children From Age 3 to 12 Years” by
Lori A. Francis and Elizabeth J. Susman, Arch. of Pediatrics and Adolescent Med. 2009; 163(4):297-302. (See the Abstract.)
- “Ability to Delay Gratification at Age 4 Years and Risk of Overweight at Age 11 Years” by Desiree M. Seeyave, Sharon Coleman, Danielle Appugliese, Robert F. Corwyn, Robert H. Bradley, Natalie S. Davidson, Niko Kaciroti, and Julie C. Lumeng, Arch. of Pediatrics and Adolescent Med. 2009; 163(4):303-308. (See the Abstract.)
Food for thought!
Self-control and the ability to delay gratification may have an impact on physical health but perhaps more importantly on spiritual well-being. Following Christ absolutely requires this if we are to more fully love others and God rather than merely serving ourselves. Self-control is also important if we are to follow the Lord’s inspired principles of sexual morality and prepare ourselves for successful marriage. Even relatively simple things like paying tithing require the ability to delay gratification and put longer-term objectives ahead of immediate pleasures. I agree that teaching this ability is one of the most important things that parents can do – and yes, they can! Kids might later choose to reject the training, but they can be taught.