Observe the child’s ability to wait for something he wants.
Bring a treat (acceptable to parents) or a very exciting toy to a play session. Show the child the treat or special toy to make sure this is something that is highly desirable to the child. Leave the item visible to the child while you play. Tell the child he can have the item before he leaves.
Observe the child’s reaction to the item. (You want the child to really want it!) If the child looks at the item frequently or talks about it, that means it is desired. Watch what strategies (if any) help the child postpone gratification. The child may verbally state that he will get the item later? May ask how much longer he needs to wait, etc. Some children may not be able to wait and demand the item immediately.
Explain the importance of delayed gratification to parents. The ability to control impulses is a key trait of successful learners and will help the child throughout life. Help early childhood educators and parents learn how to extend the child’s ability to wait by using “When…then…” statements. “When you are done with pick-up then you can go outside.” “When I am done … then we can…” Build up the wait time, so the child learns to control impulses.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.