The Cookie Experiment

Everyone knows how much I LOVE Babywise. Sometimes I get hated on for following a book for my parenting methods. But ya know what? I follow a book for how to live my life (The Bible!) so why not have a guide for how to raise my children? As a wise friend once said…haters are gonna hate 😉

There is a -wise book for EVERY stage of parenting. Brittlynn is currently in Babywise II and Kye is in Preschool Wise (you can order your own copy here!). I have just started reading it (usually I like to read the book before my child reaches that stage so I can be prepared…but I’ve been slacking!) and am LOVING it. So much of it deals with the conscious and moral training, which is so vital at this age.

Self-control is also an important skill to master. I’m stealing from the book here (page 38): Timely gratification training leads to greater self-control in children, which then leads to longer attention spans and an advanced aptitude for academic and moral learning. The key term here is self-control. Self-control is a base virtue. That is, other virtues and life skills in an individual can’t exist without it. Self-control influences kindness, gentleness, proper speech, the ability to control negative emotions, focusing skills, sitting skills, and many other behaviors. 

The writers of Preschool Wise (Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam) read a study by Dr. Goleman who states that children who gain the mastery of delayed gratification learn the virtue of self-control and hence have a much better life. Children trained in immediate gratification suffer and are left behind (pg 39). He did a study where he brought children individually into a room. They were offered a marshmallow and told they could either eat that marshmallow right then or if they waited 15 min they would be given a second marshmallow (pg 40). 

The researchers followed the children as they grew up and found that by the time they reached high school the ones who held out for the second marshmallow were better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident, and dependable teenagers. The ones who ate the first marshmallow without waiting were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated, and stubborn. Ezzo and Bucknam repeated the same test but used 25 children who had all been raised using principles from On Becoming Babywise when they were infants. Of the 25 children, ALL of them waited the 10-25 min for the second marshmallow!!! Isn’t that crazy?!?!

In reading the study I couldn’t imagine a child at Kye’s age waiting that long for a treat. For three year olds they had them wait 10 minutes. I decided to do my own little mini-study. But I didn’t have marshmallows so I used cookies. As you know, we don’t do treats very often so my kid was CRUNK about the cookie!!!

I showed him the cookie and explained to him that he could eat the cookie right then or wait and get to have two cookies. I expected him to eat the one cookie!!!

I set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes (I figured he’s 3 1/2 so 10 min wasn’t long enough) and told him when the timer went off if he didn’t eat the first cookie then he’d get the second one.

Here’s a video of him waiting. He explains why he’s waiting 😉

Timer went off!

And he got two cookies! Score!!!

Obviously I’m not some scientist or research specialist. I’m sure I didn’t copy the study exactly how they did. But, to me, I’d expect him to be more likely to eat the cookie when his mom is the one conducting the study as kids always behave better for other people, ya know?

I thought it was so awesome that he waited out for the 15 minutes!!! Like Preschool Wise says on page 41: “Could something as basic as an infant feeding routine, healthy naps, continuous nighttime sleep, definite boundaries and a healthy does of otherness training be the channel for success? We think so.”

If you have read Babywise and never picked up any of the other -wise books, I HIGHLY recommend them. If you never read Babywise but have a toddler or a preschool, then I also recommend reading Toddler Wise/Preschool Wise. Toddler Wise was a HUGE asset to me in getting Kye through those “trying twos” and I feel our transition to having another baby was made easier by implementing the strategies laid out in the books.

I’m still just digging into Preschool Wise but it’s some AWESOME stuff! A lot about the importance of moral training, the importance of play in a child’s life, and how to go about teaching your child the skills he or she will need to be successful in all areas of life 🙂 All of the -wise books have been such blessings in my life and I hope they are in yours as well!


  1. Sabrina Hunsinger Vaccaro
    August 31, 2012 / 6:11 pm

    Love his little accent! 🙂

  2. Chelley
    August 31, 2012 / 6:59 pm

    I'm so trying this out…

  3. Danielle
    September 1, 2012 / 1:18 pm

    Thats awesome! One of my favorite classes in college was developmental psychology – i LOVE the experiments with children! I was often surprised. As a society I dont think we give them enough credit for how intelligent they really are (or can be).

  4. Rachael_Copponex
    September 12, 2012 / 1:04 am

    Macy is a cookie monster. She would never last

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