Last week, I wrote about going to the supermarket with my mom from a young age. This was when I started to understand how far busy moms can stretch a hard-earned dollar and started to grasp the difference between a need and a want. In my last blog post, I also emphasized the importance of rewarding kids with something special (a treat) while being mindful of practicing delayed gratification with them too. Start with small things.
Treats, needs and wants are all a part of life. It’s whether we link them to instant or delayed gratification that is key. Forty years of Stanford research found that kids who practiced delayed gratification became more successful later in life. You can read about it further here.
You see, it’s not about saying NO to your kid, it’s about saying NO right now.
So how did this apply in my life? I mentioned before that my sister and I were saving up for a Super Nintendo back in 1991. I remember telling my friends about how I was saving my money for it, but nearly all of them were given their gaming systems by their parents, or they received them as birthday or Christmas gifts.
Did personally saving for it take more work? Yes. Would I have been happier if I someone else bought it for me? I’m not so sure about that.
Buying things for kids does not teach them about the value of what they are receiving, especially things of substantial value. Even back in the 90’s, I knew kids who couldn’t understand why I would save up for a Nintendo. They just couldn’t get their heads around not getting something they wanted right away – they had become used to instant gratification.
I can personally attest to the fact that going through the process of saving and waiting to be able to buy the Nintendo allowed me to work towards something that was important to me and created longer term excitement for me. The anticipation of getting it was so great, that when I finally was able to buy it, my sister and I were both beside ourselves. To this day, I’m still grateful for my Mom’s teachings and contribution. After all, she helped us out by covering the taxes on the purchase, thanks Mom!
Looking back, by the time I purchased our new Nintendo, I noticed many of the kids who got their Nintendo’s right away didn’t even play it anymore. In fact, they didn’t play with many of their toys all that much because they had a lot and were usually preoccupied with whatever the new thing was and how they could persuade their parents to buy it for them.
As grown ups, don’t you notice adults that still do this? Consistently seeking the next new thing.
The Super Nintendo was a bigger ticket item for us back in the day. But remember, saving and delayed gratification can be practiced with big and small things everyday. I learned from saving up for the Nintendo when I was 10 years old and I really appreciated this treasured item because it wasn’t handed to me. I worked for it.
The power of delayed gratification is very real – keep this in mind the next time you are thinking about treating your kids or they’re asking you for something. Don’t feel bad. They will appreciate it a lot more once they’ve earned it and they’ll have you to thank for this.