Book Review: How to Con Your Kid
Are you having trouble getting your kid to eat, go to sleep, sit still or do your taxes? A parenting manual from Quirk Books might be exactly what you’re looking for. The book, How to Con Your Kid, features games and tricks for parents to get their kid to do anything.
Think of it as how to Win Friends and Influence People – Parents Edition.
The introduction claims that after reading the book you’ll be able to beat your children at their own game. The book will show you how to track distract and redirect your child so that they behave. But shouldn’t you feel bad about tricking your child?
As David Borgenicht and James Grace mention in the introduction, many people make the mistake of talking to their kids as if they’re adults. We think we’re giving them adult decisions but all were doing is confusing them – they’re kids! Their whole life is bent around getting what they want, when they want it – without being responsible for the rest. They don’t understand yet that you’ve got to eat food for health reasons, or that stepping on a Hot Wheels car in the dark at 3am is the worst thing ever. They don’t know that money, space and time are limited. If it’s any consolation, adult decisions are unfortunately too much for a lot of adults to handle too.
You might know David Borgenicht’s name from the The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, of which he was a creator and coauthor. He’s a father of two. James Grace coauthored of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Golf and has three kids. Coincidentally, if you’r playing golf, there’s no worst-case scenario.
In How to Con Your Kid, Borgenicht and Grace lay out the cons in five sections: grooming, getting ready, behavioral, household, and mealtime and bedtime cons. The actual cons are laid out with a brief introduction, groundwork to lay, basic cons, short cons, related games, and a section called “if they’re on to you ” where if all else fails, you concede a little but still teach a lesson.
For example, one of the most common cons that parents do is getting kids to clean up. Borgenicht and Grace investigate how you can engage your children to be a part of the solution of cleaning a mess. In order to lay some groundwork the author suggests letting your child play with only a few things a time so that cleanup isn’t overwhelming. They also suggest making cleanup time a daily routine so that your child isn’t surprised when they’ve got to do it. A few of the cons they mention are: mimicking your child’s day care cleanup routine, and not letting your child leave a room when it’s messy. Their short cons have to do with the power of suggestion, such as asking your child which item from a couple choices they’d like to pick up (“do you want to pick up trucks or blocks?”). If none of the short cons work, a “cleaning olympics” game is suggested, and if they’re on to you, the authors suggest putting their toys into a box and letting them decide later whether or not they’d like to earn it back.
There are not many pictures in the book. The only pictures are primarily small, two-color doodles that serve as a visual reminder of the topic that you’re reading about. Being a book that’s not reliant on diagrams, it’s okay for this book not to have very many pictures. I’d rather the page-space spent telling me how to trick my kid!
There’s an appendix with a couple charts that the authors encourage you to photocopy and enlarge. As well, they include “bribe stickers” for the charts. Personally, I’m going to put them on my skateboard. Take that, Quirk Books!
Bottom-line: How to Con Your Kid is a great little manual that will tell you how to trick your child into doing various tasks – from going to the dentist to eating their vegetables. You can even trick your kid into doing your taxes! Okay, not really, but with all of the tools you’ll learn in this book, it’s not far-fetched to think that with a little practice, you could con your kid into crunching the numbers on your itemized deductions.