Are you old enough to remember the Heinz™ ketchup commercial with the “Anticipation” song? The lyrics were simple, “Anticipation…It’s making me wait.” It took, what seemed like, forever for the ketchup to finally drip from the bottle as the caption read, “The taste that’s worth the wait!”
Waiting! Who does that anymore?!?!
I’m not one to glamorize the past and make it seem like this generation is “going to h*%@ in a hand basket.” But, I often tell students that I feel sorry for their generation for many reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that many of them are being deprived of the opportunity to experience the emotion of “anticipation” and the joy of its fulfillment. They are required to wait on very little today. For most of them, whatever they want, they get!
I’m not sure what your childhood was like, but there were a couple of ways I was blessed to experience the fulfillment of anticipation when I was a kid.
Did your parents ever complain about how difficult it was to get you out of bed for school during the week, but yet on Saturday mornings you were up bright and early in order to watch cartoons? If you were like I was, you were so excited about the chance to watch cartoons on Saturday that you were up even earlier than your parents were. Oh, how things have changed: today kids can watch cartoons 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result, they never get to experience the weekly excitement of looking forward to Saturday mornings.
I’m sure not everyone will be able to relate to this example because many people didn’t have to make weekly payments before they could get those back-to-school clothes or that 4th of July outfit. But, I clearly remember the joy experienced as a result of my mom making that final lay-a-way payment. I would finally be able to wear the clothes that I had so carefully picked out in the store weeks, or even months, earlier. Again, things have clearly changed because there are very few stores that even offer a lay-away plan today. I’m sure stores even know that we’ve reached a time in history where people wait for very little, even if they can’t really afford it.
Typically whenever you have to wait and eagerly anticipate getting something, you appreciate it more and take better care of it because you know how long you had to wait to get it.
A Healthy Dose of Anticipation Goes a Long Way!
In an age of Instagram, text messages and smart phones, there is very little that youth are required to wait for today. This is a problem! Not only are they being robbed of the opportunity to experience the joy of anticipation, but also the preparation needed to properly navigate through their relationships. When teens haven’t been taught the value of delayed gratification their entire lives, it becomes much more challenging for them to know the value of waiting to have sex when in relationships.
Below are several suggestions on how you can teach your child the benefits of delayed gratification, even before they get in relationships:
- Have a limit on the amount of time they are allowed to use technology/media (i.e. computer, cell phone, Ipod, television, etc.) and stick with it! Use technology/media as a reward (i.e. you can watch 30 minutes of television after you’ve helped a younger sibling with homework, etc.)
- Instead of buying them a toy when they ask for it, make them save up their money to buy the toy or tell them you will buy it at some point in the future.
- Help them brainstorm short-term and long-term goals they would like to accomplish for the future, (i.e. reading a book a week or making the Principal’s Honor Roll), and write down steps they can take towards reaching those goals.
If we’re going to teach our kids that they’re worth the wait, we have to stop the behavior that makes it seem as though “wait” is a “four letter word.” The younger your child is when you begin sharing the principle of delayed gratification with him/her, the more likely he/she will not only look forward to the rewards that will come from waiting, but also experience and appreciate the excitement that anticipation brings.
Have you found other ways to teach your child the principle of delayed gratification? If so, please share them below so we can learn from each other.