The premise is simple: You can eat one marshmallow now or, if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later.
It’s an experiment in self-control for preschoolers dreamed up by psychologist Dr. Walter Mischel. While the rules of his experiment are easy, the results are far more complex than he ever could have imagined. In fact, what they tell you about your child at age 4 could have repercussions for the rest of their lives.
Mischel first administered this experiment, dubbed the “marshmallow test,” to preschoolers in the early 1960s. They were brought into a barren room, empty of any distractions except a table upon which sat a very tempting treat: the marshmallows. The children were given the choice of eating one marshmallow whenever they wanted or, if they could hold out until the adult instructing them returned to the room, they were rewarded with the two marshmallows.
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