The Fruits of a Self-Controlled Spirit

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

(Proverbs 25:28)

What’s the “Marshmallow Test” and why does it matter?

Austrian-born psychologist Walter Mischel conducted studies at Stanford University beginning in the 1960s that popularized the idea that self-control in a child points to greater success later in life.

Method: Offer young children a choice: a single treat now or double the treat if they wait to eat it, stay in their seat, and refrain from calling the researcher back into the room. (Wait time ranged anywhere from five to twenty minutes).  

Findings: The more successfully children used coping strategies to avoid eating the first treat, the better they tended to fare in adolescence and adulthood in academic testing, body mass index, social behaviors, income, and other measures.

Why: Once the study became part of popular culture, factors such as children’s socioeconomic situations, their upbringing, their biology, and a host of other factors were analyzed.

So the key question for researchers, educators, and policy makers became: if people lack self-control at an early age, are they doomed to a life of rash decisions?

Researchers found that most children who lack self-control can learn effective strategies to function at a higher level as adolescents and adults. But it takes a desire to change and someone willing to teach them important life skills.

At Hannah Grace Homes, most young women come from living situations where self-control is rare, neglect is rampant, and exposure to abuse fundamentally disrupts the way their brains develop.

A girl dealing with abuse and neglect is at higher risk of making choices that are impulsive, unpredictable, and dangerous to herself or others.

If she isn’t redirected, her future will likely include repeated broken relationships, substance abuse, criminal activity, chronic health issues, or even premature death.

As Christians, you and I already know and trust in God’s promise of redemption, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Children who are exposed to neglect and abuse heal through relationships. And there’s no more important relationship for any of these girls than with their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Hannah Grace Homes needs your help to provide every girl with biblically solid counseling, important safety measures, and additional house parents to consistently model Christ through strong and patient love.

The challenges each of these girls face are greater than Peggy and I originally thought. The “extreme” cases are actually the norm for these young women who have been through the foster care system.

Your prayerful and financial support at year end will help equip another girl with the skills and support she needs to break the cycle . . . and say yes to the “second marshmallows” in her life.


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