If you put a raisin in front of a toddler and tell them they have to wait to eat it, you'll probably have a pretty tempted child on your hands.
But a new study found that in doing just that, researchers were able to predict how well, to an extent, the child would perform academically later in life.
The research from the University of Warwick in England tested toddlers' self control by putting a raisin in an opaque cup that they could easily reach. The toddlers were trained in the raisin-in-the-cup situation and eventually were left alone for one minute, asked to wait that long before touching or eating the raisin.
According to the research, toddlers who were born very premature were more likely go for the raisin before the time was up. The researchers then followed up on the children academically seven years later and found that those who couldn't maintain a greater level of control over their impulses when they were younger, were not performing as well in school compared to those who could.
The research, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, is based on data collected during the Bavarian Longitudinal Study, an ongoing study that started in 1985, involving 558 children born between 25 to 41 weeks gestation. The raisin test was conducted when they were 20 months old.
"This new finding is a key piece in the puzzle of long-term underachievement after preterm birth," the study's lead author Julia Jaekel, an honorary research fellow at Warwick and assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said in a statement.
Senior author, Dieter Wolke, a professor at Warwick, said the study shows that the raisin game could be a "promising new tool for follow-up assessments to predict attention regulation and learning in preterm and term born children. The results also point to potential innovative avenues to early intervention after preterm birth."
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