What Makes One Kid Ask for a Toothbrush and Another Ask for Candy?

Though Halloween was a few weeks ago, the memories (and the candy) still linger. We started a Halloween tradition where we get together with neighbors for pizza, then go out as a group for trick-or-treating. This year was no different. After a bit of dinner and socializing, we began our two hour trek through the neighborhood.

The kids went from home to home ringing doorbells and thanking neighbors for candy. Interestingly, when we arrived at the home of the local dentist, my 8-year old son saw toothbrushes at the doorway and asked if he could have a toothbrush rather than candy.

The dentist was thrilled. He handed my son a toothbrush and then gave out additional toothbrushes to the kids in the group. When we arrived home my boys were super excited to sort candy. Once that was done, they put the candy aside and  “oohed” and “ahhed” about their new toothbrushes. When I asked my oldest son why he asked for a toothbrush rather than candy, he answered, “I  have to go upstairs to brush my teeth because I don’t have a toothbrush downstairs. With this new toothbrush I can brush my teeth on the first floor.”

How practical. This dialog led me to question how we make decisions. Here’s what I learned. A study published by the Journal of Psychological Science found the following when it comes to decision making and age:

  • With age comes wisdom
  • Young adults and older adults make decisions differently
  • Young adults did best when it came to selecting immediate rewards, while the older adults outperformed in tasks that required long-term reward and more strategy

Perhaps my son was born with the decision making ability of someone older than his age. Whatever the case, I’m happy that he chose the toothbrush over more candy.

P.S. If you’re looking for creative ways to get rid of all that extra Halloween candy, some organizations collect candy for the troops overseas. Also, some dentists “buy back” candy.


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