The Candy Test - Reflecting on Self Control

I got this idea from the Teaching in Blue Jeans blog, and their "Marshmallow Test" to help students with learning self control. The concept is simple, and easily modfied we chose higher valued candies in place of marshmallows.

What to do:

Place one candy in a bowl and hand it to them. Tell them, they can chose to eat the delicious candy now, or they can wait _______ minutes and get more. I did a 6 minute time limit. During the time, I tried convincing them to eat their candy. I said things like, "Oh just go ahead and eat it, 6 minutes is too long." and "Gosh that candy looks so good, don't you want to just eat it already??"

It was interesting to see how they would respond. Neither of them chose to eat it before the 6 minutes. My oldest took the "out of sight out of mind" approach by hiding his bowl with one sour patch kid in the drawer.

My youngest sat there pitiful at first tempted to eat her one Twizzler.

Then they decided to go with distraction and play a bit trying to pass the time quicker...

The last few seconds were brutal...

but they did it!!!!

They both said it was worth the wait!

If your children do decide to eat the once piece before the time is up, reassure them that it is ok. You can say something like, "It's okay that you ate your one piece, that was really hard, you tried your best!"

Here is a fun video to watch together on the test!

What does this teach?

This activity helps children learn about self control in regards to temptation and hope in future rewards.

The bigger picture:

Self control is often defined as ‘ the ability of the child to do the harder option instead of the easy option in order to reach their long term goals. In order to do this they need to be able to regulate their emotions and focus their attention. Children who have high self control can stop a behavior, even if they want to continue, or start a behavior, even if they don’t want to. This skill is not to be confused with obedience (behavior done in order to get a reward or to avoid punishment.) A child showing self control will behave appropriately even if no one is watching ( if they have internalized the rule that this is the ‘ right’ thing to do) Even though having self control is different to being willing to follow the rules’ research shows that children with higher self control ability also tend to be more willing to follow rules of conduct. (link here.)

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