Ask the expert: What else to do to get my child ready for pre-school? Self-control

jane-madisonBelow is a guest post by Jane Madison, an early childhood education expert and pre-K teacher at Saint Peter the Apostle School on Wilmington Island. To read her past guest posts on preparing your child for preschool, click here:

About twenty years ago, when I was working with 3 year olds, we had a child in our class who always had to be first. First at art, first served at the snack table, the first turn in a game, and even the first one called to get his book bag. He had to be first. And, if he wasn’t first, he would whine,”What about me, what about me?!” louder and louder, until he got what he wanted. Needless to say, that behavior really got on our nerves! What this little guy needed to learn was self-control!

Self-control is the ability to control one’s emotions, desires and actions by one’s own will, and is one of the most important skills we can help our children develop.

There is a famous experiment, conducted by Dr. Walter Mischel at Stanford University that supports this statement.

In the 1960s, a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow and promised another, if they could wait 15 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. They were then divided into three groups. Those who ate the marshmallow right away were moved to group A, and those who waited before eating the marshmallow were moved to group B. (Those who were able to wait for some time, but didn’t last the full 15 minutes were not included in any more research.) The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those children with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (determined by surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). (Shoda, Mischel,&Peake1990)

The research also showed that the children who, when they were four-year-olds, could not wait, as teens were troubled, indecisive, and less confident and still were unable to delay gratification. To read the rest of this post in its entirety, click here.

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