This is the app your kids don’t want you to own.
This is the app that will give you the skills, the know-how, and the street smarts to beat your children at the only game they’re better at than you are—being children. Sure, they’re smaller than you and, theoretically, not as smart as you. And, sure, you are the grown-up, so whatever you say goes, no matter what, right?
But in the real world, and especially with today’s mode of parenting (in which many of us attempt to talk to our kids as if they’re adults—our first mistake), that’s not how it works. That’s just not how kids play the game.
For children, especially those between the ages of 2 and 7, every day is a struggle between wanting to be more in control of their own lives and wanting to still be your little baby. As infants, all they had to do was cry and you’d come running. Why shouldn’t that same approach work now, especially if they can add whining, cajoling, and negotiating to the mix? Just because they have the capacity for empathy and reason doesn’t mean they think it’ll get them what they want any faster!
Why shouldn’t they spend all day completely naked? Why can’t they have ice cream as an after-school snack? Kids don’t know you’re supposed to get dressed before you go anywhere or that candy isn’t in the new food pyramid. Kids don’t know they aren’t allowed to use your iDevice 24/7 just like you do. Kids don’t know there isn’t an unlimited supply of money in your wallet for buying toys whenever they want or that tantrums aren’t the primary negotiating tool of all great litigators. (Come to think of it, some great litigators don’t know that, either.) Kids don’t realize that getting a haircut isn’t an ancient form of torture, that nail trimming doesn’t hurt, or that there’s such a thing as an inside voice.
That’s where you come in. You have to educate them somehow—or otherwise convince them to do what you want. That can be accomplished in a variety of ways.
Sometimes it’s enough to lay the groundwork—give them the benefit of the doubt, treat them like responsible and intelligent individuals, teach them why things are the way they are.
But, other times, you’ll need to be a bit, well, craftier. You’ll need to trick, distract, or redirect your child so that he falls in line. This book gives you the essential tools and knowledge to do just that. (By the way, this seems like a good point to mention that, instead of using the awkward “he or she,” we’ve decided just to vary the gender pronoun throughout the text, OK?)
This book contains all the information you need to con your kid—to convince her to behave exactly the way you want her to, anytime, anywhere. You’ll learn classic techniques, like offering “Short Cons” (choices that make your child feel as though she’s in control, when in reality you’re the one pulling the strings) and turning dreaded activities into fun and games. You’ll master the art of misdirection and gain time-honored parenting skills you can use to get your kids to bend to your will—without them ever realizing it.
Also for this new edition, we’ve revised and updated the text to include even more tips, tricks, and techniques to help you deal with the modern-day kid (now that you’re a modern-day parent).
To come up with the suggestions that follow, we not only tapped into the vast arsenal of parental weapons we and our wives have used on our own children for the past several years—David has two kids, Sophie and Max; James has three, Avery, Cooper, and Dustin—we also surveyed dozens of other parents and experts (doctors, family therapists) in order to provide you with a comprehensive guide to the simplest scams and best misdirection methods available. All are parent tested and approved, and we offer several options so that you can choose the trick that best suits the situation, the need, and your particular child. What’s more, you’ll learn the basic principles to invent crafty cons of your very own.
And if you do invent successful strategies, we want to know about them. So please post your own cons and queries through the CONtribute feature in this app.
We hope you’ll use this app wisely—and that you’ll keep it in a safe place. After all, kids are learning to read earlier and earlier these days, and you don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands. Feel free to share it with other parents once your own children have finally gained the capacity to reason (or at least when they’re on to you and your schemes).
And remember: We are the parents. We are bigger, smarter, and craftier. To paraphrase Cliff Huxtable, we brought our kids into the world, and we can take them out. Even if we’re only trying to take them out for dinner.
It’s us or them. Let’s make sure that it’s us—and that they don’t ever realize it!
—David & James