Saturday, October 13, 2012

Willpower and Rainbow Cakes

A number of years ago Stanford University performed a study that tested the self-control of preschool age children.  Each child was given a marshmallow and told that they could eat it now or if they waited a specified amount of time that they could have two marshmallows instead.   They followed the children for a number of years and found that those children who were able to delay gratification and resist eating the marshmallow (about one-third), were more likely to be effective, positive, contributing adults.  The children who ate it the most quickly were more likely to be troubled and less successful as adults. 

I was disappointed that I never heard of this study until my children were too old to try it out on, but I've speculated probable outcomes for each of my children based on how I remember them at that age.    (I think most of them would have waited.  Two I am unsure about.) 

Although Glen and I aren't much into dieting (please don't start laughing maniacally about what a shock that piece of info isn't), we do regularly go through periods of time that we avoid sugar.  At one point we went several months without.    In all those times, however, we never have felt the need to inflict the same restrictions on our children.  We just simply didn't want to make sugar the forbidden fruit.     

So this past Monday, when Ellie told me that she was having a sugar-free week,  I nodded my head and assumed she would forget about it the second a treat was presented to her.   It's not that I doubted her willpower, but rather figured that since the decision to do it was made 100% by her and she was the only one in the family doing it, that it would be easy to "forget" her goal.  That and the fact that she is only seven. 

On Thursday I had to bring all the kids with me to YW,  where we were learning how to make rainbow layer cakes (in the YW value colors).  We spent the entire time baking and frosting and waiting in anticipating for the finished product! 

It turned out beautifully....

And the girls were so, so excited to sample the finished product! 

Look at Ellie's face as she caught sight of that first piece being cut...

And look at her face when they handed her her own piece...
That is a look of consternation and disappointment as she realized that she was in the middle of her sweet-free week and couldn't indulge if she wanted to stay true to the goal she had set for herself.

All of the YW, the leaders, and her siblings were eating their pieces and yet she utterly refused to cheat on her commitment and decided instead, that she would wrap up her treat and put it in the freezer for another day.  Yep, I'm pretty sure she would have done just fine on that marshmallow test. 
She may only be seven-years-old, but her determination and willpower (among other things) are an inspiration to me! 



annalisa said...

Ellie you rock! Good job on not eating that piece of cake!

Steve-Rosanna said...

Grandma and I are immensely impressed by our "sweet" (no pun intended) little Ellie. You are one amazing seven-year old! Your power and commitment to stay the course is astounding and we are proud of you!

Love, G'pa and G'ma

K said...

Ellie has amazing willpower! Way to go Ellie!

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