Inculcating Investing habits in your children – Delayed Gratification

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There are two paths we can take in any situation: one is the path of rewards in short-term (Instant gratification), and the other is the more difficult path of delaying rewards for a much bigger reward in the future (Delayed gratification).

Investing is all about delayed gratification, both in terms of curbing your desire for consumption and waiting for your investments to pay off. Yet, waiting for results is hard to do in our society where instant gratification is a way of life with things like overnight deliveries, social media, and fast food. The advantages of being patient and waiting (and saving) can be seen even in the early stages of childhood. In a study done by Stanford University, children were given 1 marshmallow and were told if they waited to eat it until the instructor came back, they would be given 2 marshmallows. Only, 30% of the children waited. The study showed that children that waited ended up with better health, higher incomes, and more successful marriages when they grew up compared to the other children. Delayed gratification can benefit you in the same way.

Kids mostly live for now and also have instant access to almost everything, it can take a bit of work to reinforce the concept of delayed gratification. So, just how do we teach children patience? How do we teach them to resist temptation when they want it right now? How do we teach them self-control?

There are of course many strategies you can use – below is the one I found to be the most effective

Give your child an iPad!

The idea here is to create an environment in which self-control is consistently rewarded. Give your child a fully charged iPad and don’t allow him/her to charge it for the entire week. At the end of the week you charge it and give it back for another week (and so on). If your child manages to keep the iPad charged for the whole week you could give an additional reward. Your child might start off by draining the iPad battery at the start of the week but will eventually learn to use the iPad in moderation and make the battery last for the whole week. Not only is this a great way of teaching delayed gratification but it is also a great way of restricting screen time. The assumption here is that your child (like a lot of other kids these days) ends up spending a lot of time on the iPad.

Do share comments about your experience with this strategy and other techniques that you may have tried to inculcate a sense of delayed gratification in your kids.

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