Delaying Gratification in an Instant Age

Delaying Gratification in an Instant Age. Episode #15 - Raising Kids Who Can Cope

Episode #15 in the “Raising Kids Who Can Cope” Series

Click arrow to listen to the 90-second podcast.

We all want to raise kids who are emotionally and socially intelligent and are able to recover from disappointment to grow stronger every day into adulthood

Resilient adults have the ability to delay gratification. Yet, it is in children’s very nature to want to meet needs and wants right away. However, research tells us that children who learn to control themselves and resist temptations are more resilient and successful as adults.

There are lots of ways to encourage self-regulation in children. For example, spending time cooking or baking with children can teach them that sometimes they have to wait for good things. Likewise, teaching children not to interrupt adults lets them know that if they are patient, they will have your undivided attention. Similarly, telling young people “no” when it is appropriate helps them understand they can’t have (nor do they need) everything they want.

By encouraging self-directed play, we allow children to learn how to distract themselves from what they want in the moment. Then, help your child write down a wish list. It tells them you are truly listening to them, they learn to set goals, and it gives them a chance to evaluate what they wanted after some time has passed. Finally, good adult role models can be the best teacher.

By teaching lessons about delayed gratification early in life, children will be better able to manage the demands placed on them through the media, social media and other sources that vie for their attention, and they will be much better prepared to deal with challenges as they get older.

Raising Kids Who Can Cope is a 28-part series developed to build skills, knowledge and awareness in adults who play a role in young people’s lives. It is brought to you by Jackson County UW-Extension and Together for Jackson County Kids. Find out more at Raising Kids Who Can Cope.


Ginsburg, K. R. (2011). Building Resiliency in Children and Teens. Grove Village IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Sleeping Should be Easy (2013). How to Promote Delayed Gratification in Children. Retrieved from

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