Between 1968 and 1974, 653 four-year-olds took part in a 'delay of gratification test' with researchers from the University of Wisconsin.
The pre-schoolers were given a biscuit or marshmallow sweet and told that if they did not eat it they would be given another later.
The researchers then filmed the children for 15 minutes, and those who had managed to resist the sugary treat were given another.
Follow-up studies found that delaying gratification for a longer time with pre-schoolers resulted in children and adolescents who performed better at school, were able to handle stress more effectively and were less likely to be obese.
Dr Tanya Schlam, from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health's Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, said of the findings: "Interventions can improve young children's self-control, which may decrease children's risk of becoming overweight and may have further positive effects on other outcomes important to society, such as general health, financial stability, and a reduced likelihood of being convicted of a crime."
Do you ever do delayed gratification with your kids? Would your children be able to resist, or would they be straight in there for the first sweet?
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