Parenting is hard. Why not use a proven technique for getting your kids to do what you want?
These Reddit parents shared times they used reverse psychology and actually got the results they wanted.
Hey, whatever works.
15. This clever trick helped a tired parent get more sleep
Not reverse psychology exactly, but when my first son was about 4 he would often burst into our bedroom way too early in the morning, full of energy. It was up to me to either get up and engage with him or send him off on some mission so as to grab a few more precious minutes of shut-eye.
One I’m proud of was telling him to find out which of his legs could run the fastest. He was charging around the corridor for ages doing a kind of manic goose-step before he came back in panting that they were both the same.
14. The power of choice
I don’t so much know if you would call it reverse psychology, but I didn’t realize it until my dad told me this.
When there were chores that needed doing, he noticed if he asked me to mow the lawn, I would complain and procrastinate. But if he asked would I rather mow the lawn or wash the windows, I’d pick one and just get it done.
Shattered my brain when he told me when I was in my twenties. I use it when I’m coaching or baby sitting all the time and it almost never fails.
13. Channeling teenage rebellion
Don’t know if this counts, but, at my high school (private, boys only) in the 1960’s, they made a big deal about how long your hair was, and would occasionally order a boy to go home and “get a haircut”.
I thought it was stupid, until years later, a master confided to me at a reunion that the policy was deliberate. The school figured we’d spend so much energy rebelling about hair length, that we would ignore other aspects of teenage rebellion. (Not?) Surprisingly, they were mostly right.
12. “That looks heavy!”
It seemed like the minute my son realized he was going through puberty, he developed a need to show everyone how strong he was, usually by carrying things. Now, my son was a rather small, wiry, hyperkinetic kid – not at all a football player or weightlifter type. Yet I noticed starting when he was around 13 that if something heavy or heavy-ish needed moving, he was always right there, with a need to show he could do it.
I took full advantage. I don’t think I lifted anything heavier than my purse until he moved out. All I had to do was mention that I was going to put X in Y place (put the suitcases in the car for vacation, carry that gigantic load of laundry upstairs, etc.), and pretend like it was too heavy for me and he would appear as if summoned from the universe to do it for me. The reverse psychology aspect was my saying “Oh my! That looks heavy!” and him proving to me that “No it’s not!”
11. No salad for you!
One of my best friends through childhood used to be punished with no salad if she misbehaved. She cherishes salad now and would always try to eat as much as possible during school lunch. Coincidentally, her now husband used to be punished with no books, it had the same effect. I think it’s hilarious that they’d be hitting the salad bar and library like some black market their narc parents couldn’t reach hahaha.
10. “See you later!”
The old tried and true, “Bye, I’ll see you later!” as you pretend to leave the house whenever they refuse to put their shoes on works like a fucking charm.
My two year old that was just hiding behind the recliner comes a runnin’ when she hears that phrase. The seven year old has tried to call the bluff but, I just bluffed my way out to the car before she came running outside.
“You really were going to leave me?!”
“Guess not, maybe next time.”
9. “I bet you can’t!”
“I bet you can’t…”
Both of them HATE the assertion that they’re not capable of doing something.
“Can you put your toys away?” will almost certainly garner a hard NO, but “I bet you can’t put all those toys back in the box, no way you’ll be able to” will have them whizzing round tidying like demons, followed by a very indignant “see, I told you I could!”. Cue fake surprise from me.
They’re only 4 and 7, so I know this has got limited time, but so far works like a charm every time.
8. A powerful lesson
Split custody with my ex. When my son was around 10, he visited two weekends a month. I was waiting tables and didn’t have a huge amount to spend, but he was so needy from divorce (and I’m not blaming him, it was ugly), he begged constantly for MORE when he was with me. Whatever more was, it didn’t matter…he’d be eating ice cream cone and begging for teriyaki.
I finally realized that he just felt empty, and getting MORE whatever from me wasn’t filling him up. His next visit I handed him $100 in cash and told him it was our food/fun budget for 3 days and two nights, and he was in charge of it. I bought him his own wallet to carry. We figured out how many times we were going to eat and what we were going to do, and he paid. He got to keep whatever money he had left…thought he was rich…then realized just how much everything cost. Well. Shoe on other foot then. If we had no money for food, we ate leftovers – and I didn’t contribute more to pot. After a few weekends of running short or not getting something he actually wanted because he was foolish with funds, he started to really think about how to spend that money. He budgeted and kept to his budget. And a few times he actually went home with a little cash for his private stash.
Many years later, he thanked me for this. It really changed the way he thought about money and love.
7. Taking the fun out of rebellion works every time
Not parent. But once was a child (duh..)
Dad saw a pack of cigarettes lying around in my stuff. He was a smoker in his younger years and knew how stupid it was. But, he also was (and still is) a firm believer of “making your own mistakes”. So instead of giving me shit for buying a pack of cigarettes and telling me how idiotic this habit is, he just gave me shit for having such a shitty lighter and gave me a better one, so that i wouldn’t “embarrass myself”. That was my parents approach to everything that was typical “teen rebel” stuff. Basically killing everything “rebel” about it. It did work almost every time.
6. Yeah, they’re just little shots
Took my 3 year old son to one of those doctor’s visits where he was going to get a shot. He was worried about the shot on the whole drive over, almost to the point of tears. We get to the doctor’s office and a nurse subtly lets me know that my son is not just scheduled for 1 shot, but 5 of them in the same visit.
I turn to my son with an exaggerated smile and tell him, “Good news! They figured out how to take that one big shot you were going to get and instead break it up into these 5 little tiny shots so it won’t hurt nearly as much!”
You could see the relief wash over his face. He stopped squirming and relaxed completely. He took the first shot and even smiled and said “It’s true! The small ones don’t hurt!”
We actually made it through the third shot before the effect wore off and reality kicked in. Still… I counted it as a victory.
5. Kidnapping protection
My son was really impulsive when he was little and would try to run away from me when we would be crossing streets instead of holding my hand. So I started to tell him that he needed to hold my hand so nobody would try to steal me. It worked. He felt responsible for making sure nobody tried to kidnap me out in public.
4. Diapers are for babies
Potty training son. He just turned 3. He is proving harder and more stubborn than his sister was. When I put on his diaper, I say “diapers are for little babies, let’s go put on you wittle baby diaper on”. He says I am not a baby! “Well big boys go on the potty”.
He’s on day 5 with no diapers during the day.
3. The magic of “grown-up” foods
My mum had a friend that would put vegetables on her own plate and not the kids.
When the kids asked she would be reluctant to share, “that’s grown up food. But I suppose I can let you have a little.”
Her kids grew up loving vegetables.
I sat at the dinner table for 3 hours staring at the yucky cauliflower I refused to eat.
2. Worked for years
When I was a kid I refused to get up in the morning.
My mom said we were going to trick my dad into thinking I was still asleep. So she made me put on clothes and then hide under the covers and pretend to be asleep. Then my dad would come in to wake me up and I would “fool” him because I was already dressed and ready.
This worked on me for years and I never questioned it.
In hindsight it’s pretty obvious that my parents just wanted me to get dressed without a fuss.
1. Confusion works too
I don’t know if it was truly reverse psychology, or an exhausted response out of desperation…
We were in line at the grocery store checking out. Kid was three, and the meltdown started, and quickly became an on the floor tantrum.
I looked down and said, louder than normal, but not yelling, “Where is your mother? We need to find your mom!”
She was startled, because i am her mom, and confused. But the tantrum ended quickly, and with hugs.
Alright, now that we’ve read all the diabolical tricks that parents use on their kids… do you have any stories like this about your parents?
Share those in the comments!
Please and thank you!