Here’s some bad news for parents spoiling their children: your kids are likely to grow into spoiled adults, a new study reveals.
According to the lead author of the study, B.J. Casey, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, individuals who are not able to resist temptations as children are very likely to grow up with that same kind of attitude.
Many studies have been done of gratification delay. Most of the findings indicate that those who have difficulties delaying gratification had problems in terms of SATs scores, divorce, substance abuse, weight gain, and so on.
Four decades ago, there was a study done that involved 500 children aged 4 years old. These kids were subjected to self-control measure test. They were left inside the room with a cookie or marshmallow snack, whichever they liked better. An adult told these kids that if they could wait for him to come back to the room, they could have two treats instead of one.
Kids were also presented with the option of ringing a bell on the desk while the adult was gone. If that were the case, the adult would return to the room and allow the child to eat one treat. After the test, the kids were rated according to their level of self-control, depending on how long they could wait to eat the cookie or marshmallow. They were rated having low, average or high self-control.
• The Follow-Up
These kids were followed through adolescence and adulthood. They were evaluated according to their self-control in their 20s and 30s. Now that they are in their mid-40s, 59 of the original participants took another measure to find out their level of self-control and ability to delay gratification.
This new test, which was reported in the August 30 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that the kids who lacked self-control before still lacked self-control today.
• Ventral Striatum
The researchers also did brain-scans of 26 participants. Among those with different tolerance levels, there were differences found in the activation of the ventral striatum, the region involved with rewards and addiction.
What these findings tell us is that kids who have a hard time controlling their impulses grow up having the same difficulty later in life.
Role Of Parents
However, Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, said that it is also possible for kids to outgrow that kind of attitude. Some kids who struggle in controlling impulses may get better in time.
With that said, it is very important that parents learn to mold their children in such a way that they will learn to manage their impulses effectively. It’s true what many child psychologists advise, if you really love your children, you won’t give them everything so that when they grow up, they won’t have a hard time accepting the reality that not everything can be done their way.