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One Habit Every Child Must Learn

Aug 18, 2007
If you want to save your child a lot of pain and suffering as they grow up, there's one habit they must learn. This habit will help them avoid financial problems, many relational problems, and a large number of health problems. But it will do a lot more than help them avoid problems. It will also help them become far more successful in their occupation and relationships.

What one habit can possibly do all this? It is called delayed gratification. Unfortunately, not many people today understand what this is or how to make it a habit. Delayed gratification is the opposite of instant gratification. Most of us know exactly what that is. And we like it. Our society is built on instant gratification. Advertising demands you make a decision right now. Restaurants have drive-thrus so you don't have to wait. And even our fireplaces light up with the push of a button. No more kindling, logs, and matches. No more taking time to go through the process.

Not that all of these things are bad. Some are wonderful. But it's so difficult to know when it's best to gratify ourselves and when not too. We get sucked into the world so easily that we don't even realize it until we're in debt, alone, and dying from a preventable disease.

Scripture gives us some clear direction on when instant gratification is wrong or unwise. Any sinful activity is a definite no. Some people, such as the Amish, say almost all types of instant gratification are wrong. While the Scriptural evidence for this extreme viewpoint is weak at best, there are few times when delaying gratification is unwise.

Unfortunately, delaying gratification is a habit that's completely foreign to children. They expect instant gratification from the day they arrive. They're born demanding what they want. And they learn early to cry and even scream when they don't get it. And today, few of them are taught to do otherwise. Hardly anyone will develop the habit of delayed gratification without some training. So most adults expect instant satisfaction of all their wants.

The earlier you can train your children to delay spending money on what they want, eating what tastes good, but has no nutritional value, and adopting habits that may feel good, but don't benefit the mind (like video games), body (such as smoking), or soul (sin), the better off they'll be as they grow up.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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