Why We're Obsessed With Watching Kids Do The Chocolate Challenge

Parents have been putting tempting treats in front of their kids, leaving the room and secretly recording the results.
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What really happens if you place an irresistible treat in front of your child, leave the room, and tell them they have to wait until you return before they can eat it?

Parents have been finding out by taking part in the ‘temptation challenge’ on social media – filming their kids trying to resist chocolate. While it might look like a gentle form of torture, it’s actually a fascinating social experiment.

Some kids munch the chocolate down straight away, while others sit and wait patiently for their parents to return – but it’s not easy. They squirm, wriggle and put their head in their hands, all the while gazing wistfully at the treat in front of them.

Celebs have got in on the trend, too: Joe Wicks shared an adorable video of his 21-month daughter, Indie, successfully avoiding the chocolate. Sam Faiers’ kids had a hard time, while Rochelle Humes’ three-year-old daughter Valentina proved she had iron will.

So why, as parents, are we so obsessed with watching these videos?

Firstly, watching a child make the decision whether or not to eat chocolate independently is as adorable as it is fascinating to watch. And once our own kids have done it, it’s only natural we want to see whether other kids can resist.

According to child psychologist Amanda Gummer, of Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide, parents enjoy watching their kids take part in challenges like this because they want to understand them “as much as possible”.

“There’s a hunger for parents to understand their kids more,” she tells HuffPost UK. “So, doing these kind of experiments is interesting to them – they can prove their theories about their kids and understand some of the issues that often present themselves in families, such as why kids don’t want to wait until after lunch to eat sweets.

“We all want to be the best parents we can, so if we can understand them more it will help us be more successful.”

“We want to be the best parents we can, so if we can understand them more it will help us be more successful.”

- Child psychologist, Amanda Gummer

A famous ‘marshmallow experiment’ conducted at Stanford University in 1972 showed that children who managed to delay gratification may go on to be more successful in later life – but Dr Gummer says parents shouldn’t worry if their kids can’t do it.

Firstly, because these types of experiments are particularly tough for kids under the age of five, as children that age don’t have a real sense of time.

“Saying, ‘You can have it later’, doesn’t really mean anything to them,” Gummer explains. “It’s evolutionary – why would they risk leaving it and losing it? Children are very immediate; it’s all about the here and now. They don’t have enough life experience to know that they could wait.”

Also, adds Gummer, being able to resist temptation can be affected by a number of different things, including personality and moral development.

“Children learn through avoiding punishment and getting reward,” she says. “If a child has an obedient personality, or has been taught strongly to be obedient by the parents, the need to obey the rules may outweigh instinct. Self discipline and weighing up the costs and benefits is all a natural part of development.

“There’s a price to pay for instant gratification in the real world, which we, as adults, know.”

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