Walter Mischel, an American psychologist, did some very important early work in the area of self-regulation. He focused on self-control (impulse control) in young children, seeing which children could wait for a treat.
This was important work which gave us many insights into how impulse control figures into the children’s future development but, as you read in the previous blog post on executive functions and self-regulation, self-control is not the only important executive function.
Mischel tested children’s self-control by telling them they could have one marshmallow right away but, if they waited, they could have two. He then looked at the differences between the children who waited and those that didn’t.
Watch these children trying to wait for their marshmallows. You’ll see in this video that some children wait more easily than others and some use strategies (like self-distracting) to help themselves.