A very cute and patient toddler passes the torturous "candy challenge" with flying colors

Originally published at: A very cute and patient toddler passes the torturous "candy challenge" with flying colors | Boing Boing


Watching that baby physically control her impulses may just be the best thing I’ve seen all day.

Totally adorbs.


Agreed, @Melizmatic!



I once read an interpretation of the marshmallow challenge that posited that toddlers who failed it didn’t necessarily have poor impulse control. Rather, they came from low trust environments. If a toddler didn’t believe that they were going to get an extra marshmallow if they waited (because they just don’t have trust the authorities will follow through on their promises), then why wait? Just eat it all now. If you don’t, then the grown-ups might take it all away from you.

Consider children growing up with parents who have mental illness or alcoholism. They learn coping skills to deal with the erratic behaviour of their caregivers.

That being said, this little girl is super cute and definitely trusts her parents.



I’ve never considered that point, but it makes sense, actually.


Toddler has better impulse control than former guy. Toddler for President!


I’m not one to support child labor, but someone needs to hire her to coach a bunch of adults I’ve encountered throughout my life in these skills.

Maybe just a TED Talk?


Sorry am I missing something? The normal ’challenge’ is to promise twice of much of something, if for a portion of time, the person can resist the urge to consume the first helping. It proves impulse control and delayed gratification / best interest calculations to see if the child can weigh up options.

This candy challenge is just ‘don’t eat it till I get back’.

It’s proving a different point I suppose, that this child simply has patience and trusts her parents (though to do what, come back at all?!) but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and it just seems to be a bit silly. Feels like the first person on Tik Tok to start this new challenge had an Archer-level “core concept” issue.

Edit: this takes nothing away from the fact it’s still adorable, but my inner scientist is disappointed.



Anticipation. Joy. Fear. Guilt. Determination. And (quite possibly) Pride. In just 2 minutes. That’s a lot for a toddler. Or maybe NOT.


I hear you. With the test as I’ve always heard it, there’s a “reason” to control the impulse–as you said, the extra reward on top of the thing in front of them. This mixes impulse control with trust that there is a good reason. It makes me wonder if 1) impulse control, and the ability to map the parents’ minds to the extent you believe they have a reason for what they ask of you, have different rates of development in children, and 2) if this version of the challenge exists in the literature. I’m going to have to make myself NOT look into either of those because I’m researching enough things as it is now.


No, @werdnagreb above had it right: the original researchers learned over time that what they thought they had tested for wasn’t really what was going on. Children from low-trust environments wouldn’t wait to eat what was in front of them because they were making the rational choice based on what the world was like for them, not because they didn’t have self control.


You saved me posting this :grinning: But wait, there’s more.

That is now the prevailing (and likely correct) interpretation because someone finally came along and replicated it. Like so much of psychology, unfortunately, there’s a massive replication crisis, and much of the early stuff that people take as canon were actually small studies that weren’t constructed very well. The Marshmallow Test is the poster child (nyuk) for this. Not only was it poorly constructed with poor controls, it was a small sample, and never replicated. So not too shocking that it was wrong. However it was widely reported because people like the “just so” message it seemed to have and entire schools of thought around raising children came from it. All based on a conclusion that was just plain wrong (and frankly a little racist- poor kids are poor because they can’t defer gratification- fuck).

As said above, it turns out (now with multiple replications and much better controls) what it is actually testing is how much kids trust adults, which is a function of whether adults have been shitty to them so far in life (whether by choice or economic circumstance).


Not to mention, hungry, or potentially more excited about a single marshmallow than a kid who’s had plenty of them in the past and expects more of them to be forthcoming if he makes a compelling-enough request.

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Is there an adult holding the camera?

I wonder if it’s also testing which kids live in households where kids are plied with treats, and trust that they can get more treats at home any time they want.

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I thought it tested whether the child likes marshmallows.

“Wait! I only have to eat one if I eat it right now. But if I wait a minute, I’m going to be forced to eat two?”


At least that’s the way my wife explained it to me.


I think I could pass this test at age 40 or so

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