How Can You Help Children Appreciate Delayed Gratification?

I had it pretty good as a kid. While I didn't get everything I wanted for birthdays or Christmas, my parents always gave it a good shot, and most importantly, they were always there when I opened the boxes.

Still, in the instances I wanted a big-ticket item from my parents, I had to be patient. Coming from a single-income family with modest means, convincing my parents to buy something like a new BMX bike - such as the 1987 Diamondback Viper I wanted more than anything at age 7 - required months of persuasion.

At the time, I fiercely envied my wealthier friends. Many of them seemed to get cool new bikes at the drop of a hat. But I began to view things differently when I had my own kids. It turns out that my experiences in wanting may have given me a gift that I wouldn't understand until adulthood.

But back to 1987 for a minute.

When, after roughly a year of asking, I did get that Diamondback for Christmas - thanks again, Mom and Dad - the excitement was dizzying. I used that elation to turn several thousand hot laps around my block on Christmas day. I would say that I only stopped to go to the bathroom, but it's completely possible that I didn't pause at all until the sun went down. I spent the evening applying stickers to my new rig until bedtime came.

Perhaps because it had taken so long to get it - one year being an eternity to a 7-year-old - I happily rode that bike for many years. Wheelies, skids, dirt jumps, sketchy wooden ramps propped against cinder blocks - the bike saw them all in abundance. It finally met its demise five years later with a snapped downtube, the result of one bunny-hopped curb too many. But it didn't owe me a thing by then.