Self-discipline, delayed gratification, and impulse control are some of the terms often used interchangeably, and all crucial to long-term success.

One of the main benefits of self-discipline is the ability to look past instant gratification and pleasure in order to see and strive for greater results — even those which require significant effort.

The sooner children start exercising self-discipline, the sooner they start reaping its benefits while simultaneously learning that the payoffs are worth it. It’s a positive cycle that will continue to create success throughout their lives.

While sticking with goals is not always easy, self-discipline spurs critical follow-through when difficulties arise along the way. Life is full of challenges, and self-discipline can mean the difference between persevering and giving up. There are other benefits, too. Every time we set a goal and reach it, we grow in self-esteem, confidence, satisfaction, and happiness. Steve Jobs, the visionary behind Apple, was known for his relentless self-discipline. This did not come easily or naturally to him. Rather, he worked at it because he wanted to achieve greatness in life. Considering that the iPhone is credited with transforming tech and changing the world, Jobs more than reached his goal.

What would your child do in that room alone with the marshmallow?

Stanford professor Walter Mischel offered young children a choice between having one marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes in his seminal 1960s research. The research team placed one marshmallow in front of each child and then left the room to observe what each child would do next. Most children couldn’t resist the immediate temptation of a marshmallow in front of them, but few were able to wait even while nobody was watching for the bigger reward. Years later, those children who showed self-discipline, and delayed gratification to wait for the larger reward achieved higher SAT scores, healthier BMI levels, better stress handling, and overall greater life outcomes.

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