A behavioral bedtime story for your kids

Nudge blog reader and father Andrew Luccasen reads a bedtime story to his children with a nice behavioral lesson about the wisdom of a commitment device when facing a self-control problem. The story is called “Cookies” from “Adventures of Frog and Toad”  by Arnold Lobel, which was originally published in “Frog and Toad Together” in 1971. “I guess it’s never too early to teach children about cognitive biases and how to attempt to overcome them!” he writes. Here is Luccasen’s account of “Cookies.”

After eating many cookies that Toad baked, Toad and Frog decided they needed to stop. First they agreed to eat one last cookie… then one very last cookie. Having recognized their self-control problem, the friends then seek a commitment device.

Frog puts cookies in a box, but Toad points out that they could just open the box. Frog ties a string around the box, but Toad says they can cut the string. Frog gets a ladder and places the box on a high shelf, but Toad climbs the ladder, cuts the string, and opens the box.

Frog finally takes the box outside of his house, and gives them to the birds in his yard. Frog comments that they “…have lots and lots of willpower.” Toad decides he does not want willpower, and goes home to bake a cake.

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