You all know about the Marshmallow Test done on children years ago to test their E.Q. If the test were done on my two girls today, they would fail instantly. Cate who eats everything but… sweets, and Reese with her love of.. marshmallows!
Seriously, I believe the best way to up children’s Emotional Quotient is to teach them to sacrifice in little things, everyday. Raise them to be tough from as early as they can remember. I do not keep a military-like home (no offense meant!), but neither do I give my little girls everything that they want. They do get their treats, but these are never stocked in the cupboard. I buy their treats once in a while. And they have to have eaten their meals first before they can dig into their favorite bag of strawberry mallows or bread.
When either child throws a tantrum, I adamantly refuse to give them what they want. I don’t care if they’re making a scene in the mall. Either I explain to them why what they’re demanding for is not good for them, or I ask them to calm down and ask me properly.
A few years ago, I attended a talk on E.Q. given by Dr. Esther Esteban. One of the things she addressed was teaching our children the virtues of temperance and chastity. And she explained something I never forgot. It went something along the lines of, “If you want to teach your adolescents the virtue of chastity, start them young by disciplining them in their love of food.” In short, we should teach our little ones to temper the pleasure they find in food (i.e. they don’t have to eat the whole bar of their favorite chocolate!) as preparation for teaching them later on to control themselves in more important matters.
I love my daughters dearly, and so I don’t want them to turn out to be soft marshmallows. By not giving them all the comforts of life and by teaching them to delay their gratification in the little things, I have great hopes that they will pass the big Marshmallow Tests of life.