Our youngest eats normally at meals, but when she gets sweets she wolfs them down. Her big sister enjoys them more, saving some for later.

I think it's a good to be able to restrain yourself, so I would like her to eat slower and enjoy the sweets more.

I remember explaining to big sis how she should let chocolate or candies melt in her mouth for maximum enjoyment and that worked great, but our youngest doesn't want to do that. I wonder if this is more of a personality trait than a learned behavior.

Any tips appreciated.

Update: ...and today she actually ate her cashews slower than her sister. I suppose time will indeed fix this. Thanks all for the comments and studies!

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    What are the ages of the children? The older child may simply be old enough to exercise restraint. Whereas the younger child may be to young to overcome biology: Growing bodies are hardwired to react to food with high energy content (such as sugary foods). – user11394 Apr 19 '15 at 7:28
  • Good point, they are 3.0 and 5.5 years old. – w00t Apr 19 '15 at 13:39
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    Personality has an impact on this, but age will certainly give you a chance to reasonably explain the advantage of delay. I have no idea how I'd explain savoring flavor to my three year old, either :) – Acire Apr 19 '15 at 15:11
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    Bear in mind, too, that "maximum enjoyment" may just feel different for different kids (and adults). Even with the same person (me), sometimes I do enjoy letting a piece of chocolate melt in my mouth, but sometimes I prefer to nibble it, or even pop the whole piece in my mouth, chew it up, and let all the little pieces melt all over my mouth in a chocolatey explosion! – Aravis Apr 22 '15 at 15:52

As CreationEdge commented, this is perfectly normal. In fact studies have been done where children were presented with a sweet and told that if they waited without eating it they could have more sweets later. Under a certain age they didn't wait - immediate gratification was the driver. Above that age, they could understand patience, delayed reward etc.

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    Actually, I read a similar study where children of the same age were presented with the "cookie now vs two cookies later" choice (while alone in a room) and the ones who could wait did better academically at a later age... So there are gradations within age groups. – w00t Apr 19 '15 at 13:40
  • I said sweets but really it is anything snack-like that they really like, such as salami slices, pistacchios, tortilla chips, 80% chocolate chunks, ... Yesterday we were at a birthday party with lots of cookies and it prompted the question :) – w00t Apr 19 '15 at 13:51
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    Okay - I'll take out that last para. It does sound a bit condescending anyway, now I read it back. Sorry – Rory Alsop Apr 19 '15 at 14:26
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    @w00t I'd take the delayed-gratification-as-predictor study with a large grain of salt; see this study for an analysis which indicates that the behavior is more correlated with environmental reliability — how much faith the child has that the promised future two cookies will really materialize. And that, of course, can correlate strongly with other factors likely to hinder academic success. In other worse, the challenge may be indicative, but not of the thing people normally associate it with (self-control, basically). – mattdm Apr 19 '15 at 16:10

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