I was lucky enough to hear Jonah Lehrer (jonahlehrer.com) speak to a group of 150 businesspeople yesterday. His topic - the science of decision-making - revealed some of the most fascinating scientific discoveries I've ever heard.
Basically, there's a science to the way we make decisions - even those we think are totally random or determined by a "gut feeling." And, even better, we can train ourselves (and our children!) to understand the factors that go into decision-making and how, to some extent, to control them. Not only that, but there are contributing factors (like the ability to delay gratification) which can be determined as young as 18 months old. Children who can resist temptation at an early age (by distracting themselves) grow into the students who do better in school and the adults who flourish professionally.
Jonah's new book is called How We Decide - it's on the New York Times bestseller list, as was his first novel, Proust Was A Neuroscientist. The researcher who did the work with children is Walter Mischel.
If this sounds even remotely interesting to you, check it out... you'll be amazed.