I think just about everyone heard of the famous Marshmallow Experiment and the theory of delayed gratification. I admit that I would have probably failed this experiment – I don’t think that I have very good self-control. My husband, on the other hand, can be amazing in his ability to wait, to focus and to see the task through. Anna’s birthday party and the ridiculous amount of presents she collected gave my husband an idea – he suggested to me that Anna should open them slowly – one or two a day. I laughed in his face and said, Yeah right. Hey, I wanted to rip into all those brightly wrapped boxes myself and to see what kind of toys she got! To my huge surprise Anna relatively easily agreed to this approach… as long as she could open the first two right away. It’s been a week after the party and unwrapping is still in progress with Anna hugely enjoying each present and actually having time to play and explore them. There were days when she didn’t open any of her presents – she was busy enough with the ones she already had. Thinking about her behavior, I realized that she always displayed an unusually high ability to wait for something (I am not talking about waiting to speak, however :)). I totally credit my husband for this trait of her character – both for the genes that he shared with her and also for character development that started in infancy. He spent first 2.5 years of Anna’s life as a full time stay-at-home father, and she started 2 mornings of preschool after that. He still takes care of her more than 50% of the time, and his “stamp” on our daughter is extremely obvious to everyone who knows our family. He is a very involved and a very loving father, but he is also extremely consistent in enforcing rules and dishing out much needed discipline. And one of the rules always was patience. We had some disagreements over years when he told me that I am too quick to accommodate every whim of our daughter while I felt often that he is too strict. I see now that he has always been very fair in every interaction with her. Patience is based on trust – on the ability of the child to know that whatever has been promised to her will be delivered, and he has never betrayed her trust. I am proud of my husband for being such a great dad and a good role model for our daughter.
Here is an interesting (but long!) article about Marshmallow experiment – the secret of self-control. And here is a question: How do you encourage patience and self-control in children?