Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Train Up Tuesday: The Joy of Delayed Gratification

This past Saturday, we celebrated the upcoming 4th birthday of my son, “Sunshine”. We had been planning for a Candyland themed party for several months, collecting things on sale, rummaging through Christmas ornaments, and even making decorations for this festive feast for the eyes and tummy. For months, “Sunshine” would tell everyone he met about his “upcoming” Candyland party and would often ask me how much longer until the special day. I have to confess, it was even difficult for me to hold back all my secrets for the party. I was so excited to share each stage of preparation with him, but my husband displayed wisdom in encouraging me to wait on letting our son “in” on all the surprises. I’m so glad that he did!

Most of us have been there, teaching our children to wait for a special event. Children need plenty of opportunities, now more than ever, to learn the joy of “delayed gratification”. You can Google that phrase and see pages upon pages on the research and blogs on the topic. Our society has become one engorged with instantaneous satisfaction coupled with entitlement mentality.

The party provided another memorable opportunity to teach this lesson. Our 3 year old had never chewed gum (don’t get crazy, now! He’s had plenty of other candy and sweets!). We didn’t think he was ready (or that I was ready to clean it out of hair and carpet) and we thought it would be a great way to teach him how to look forward to something...even a small something. He was so looking forward to turning 4 and chewing gum! At the party Saturday, he wore a necklace made for keeping treasures (made by Nikki Mans’ daughter). He chose to put a gumball in it in expectation for this “milestone”.

During the party, he did indeed get his chance to chew his gum. He popped it into his mouth and just looked around at us. Someone asked, “Well, how is it? What do you think?” He simply said (shrugging one shoulder), “It’s pretty good” - as if to say “What was all the hubbub about?”. Oddly enough, I think he got more out of waiting and anticipating the moment he would chew the gum than he did from actually chewing it. I’m okay with that. I think sometimes, that’s the more important lesson to learn. I would rather him learn that now with small...and maybe silly....things than learn the hard way with “bigger” life lessons.

How are you dealing with “delayed gratification” in your life and with your little ones? Do you have any memorable moments?

Much love,


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