The simple marshmallow test experiment demonstrates the development in those children who were not taught delayed gratification by their parents. All the children wanted two marshmallows, but as simple as it sounds, only those who had been effectively trained in the vital life skill of delayed gratification were able to succeed.
As we then observe the progress of these four-year-olds through high school, we are amazed by the depth of imperfections developed by the “grabbers” as opposed to the character demonstrated by those who were able to wait. All of these students were later studied in life, and the same behavior patterns continued in both groups.
Those who grabbed the marshmallow may not be very happy or perhaps attractive adults today. But we must feel empathy for them, because we can see that the childhood imperfections they experienced before they were even 4-years-old that were never addressed set them on their path.
Life is built on an adversity to prosperity equation. The metaphor for adolescence, which is often called the practice field for life, is the caterpillar’s struggle in the cocoon. The caterpillar must transform its little legs into new strong wings that enable it not only to break out of the cocoon, but to fly as a butterfly. Open the cocoon to eliminate the struggle, and it will simply die.
This is why we must carefully prepare our children to handle the adversity-prosperity life equation: chores, manners, work before play, hard before easy, vegetables before dessert, etc. Today I can well appreciate some of the Marine boot camp type indoctrination my step-father gave me. I can see in life I am far more accepting of adversity than many others.