How to Defeat the Rule-Changer

Strategies for winning when your kid is constantly changing the rules.

With some kids a simple game of catch can turn into a competition faster than a political discussion at work can turn sideways. Before you know it, there’s a rather fluid list of rules and procedures longer and more confusing than the Itunes terms and services contract.

  • “No! That wasn’t a point because I touched it!”     
  • “That was MY point because I was standing outside the imaginary circle.”
  • “Wait… that didn’t count because I wasn’t ready, and you didn’t hold left leg and stand like a flamingo.”

My son once told me I lost all my points because I was sitting the wrong spot. I calmly explained that he never fucking told me that I was in the wrong spot! I was under the impression that I had 8 points!! He can’t just change the GOSH DARN RULES!!!!!! THIS ISN’T HOW REAL LIFE WORKS, SON!!! He won that game. 

Unfortunately, kids can and will change the rules because that IS how their “real world” works. And it’s OK. They probably just want to laugh and run around with you right now, and sometimes that’s more valuable than a life lesson. Instead of turning into the get-off-my-lawn old man screaming about tradition and rules, it’s more fun just play by their rules. But losing sucks, so here’s how you can still win.

Bloggy Advice

  1. Write Down The Rules – Believe it or not, kids are more likely to follow rules that are written down, especially if they’ve already started school. So make them stop and write down every crazy rule that pops in their crazy head. They’ll eventually become more selective. This strategy requires extra work, but if the game you’re kid is creating is actually fun, it could be worth it the long run.
  2. Use Your Length– make a scoreboard and hang it too high for them to reach. This way you have complete control, so the score doesn’t fluctuate like a the stock market.

Petty Advice

  1. Holdout– Great athletes sometime have to holdout to get the contract they rightly deserve. You’re a great athlete; hold out to get the point you rightly deserve.
  2. Out-rule Change Them – Keep it simple. Change the rules more frequently than they do in order to preserve your lead. Maybe they’ll start to understand the injustice of it and change their ways.
  3. Threaten to Play With Someone Else – Works every time, especially if there’s a sibling.


Three Simple Ways to Make Your Kids Leave You Alone

When “Go Away” Just Doesn’t Work

Adults have to do adult things. Simple things like read emails, go to the bathroom or enjoy silence. Kids, of course, have no concept of this. You know how full grown humans often use kitchen’s as gathering places for fun, social conversation. In case you didn’t know, that’s how kids view the bathroom.

“Oh, you’re going to sit down with a book or phone in our water-room?!?! Oh Cool!! Let’s tell that one joke I know a hundred more times! Watch me wrap myself in the shower curtain! WATCH!! Did I tell you I want some milk… like right NOW!!”

You know how you sometimes need to sit at the computer to check the news or write an essay. This is the equivalent of online political discussion to the still-growing humans in your house. They can’t stay away even if they want to.

“Oh, you’re going to write an email? Let me show you how hard I can bang on the keyboard! That’s the power button, right? I knew it!! This is how you close a laptop, Dad.  Hey… let me close it. LET ME CLOSE IT!!”

You know you can’t use TV to shut them up and leave you alone because some blogger told you they took away all screens and now their children are better than yours. And you’re vaguely aware that you’re not supposed to lock them in a room because laws and stuff. So the next time you need to steal a few moments, try these tricks.

1. Extended Hide and Seek – If your kids are old enough, you can convince them that they’re the best hiders in the world. Then they’ll hide for a good five, maybe ten, minutes before you have to find them. I’ve heard of kids hiding upwards of twenty minutes behind a door, giggling the whole freaking time.  

2. Throw Couch Cushions On the Ground – If you don’t have a couch that your kids can jump on, you shouldn’t be reading this article anyway. You should be holiday crafting with your children. If you do… chunk those cushions on the ground. You’re kids will carreen themselves around for a good six minutes before they hurt themselves. That’s enough time for a few emails. (PS – It must be noted that you might hear “WATCH THIS!” a few hundred times)

3. “Forbidden” Kitchen Tools – No shit. Hand your kids a pair of tongs and basting brush, look around to make sure no one is around and whisper, “Don’t tell Mom.” They’ll be “cleaning” and picking crap up all over the house for a good fifteen minutes. Plenty of time to read another blog post filled with useless advice on parenting.


Four Surefire Ways to Respond to Incoherent Rambling

When your three year old stumbles through a four minute soliloquy about a puddle while waiting in the dreaded elementary school pick up line, it’s NOT important that you understand everything he/she says. It IS important that you have quick, go-to responses when they start yelling DAD!, DAD!, DAAAAAD!, signalling the end of their lecture. Here are Four excellent responses that will all but guarantee you the ability to continue listening to the radio instead of having to ponder deep thoughts on shallow water.

1. “Oh Cool” – This is clearly the easiest, simplest, and should always be your first option. It doesn’t always work, but you’re making no promises or commitments. And let’s be real. Your kid thinks whatever they say IS the coolest, and they’re looking for confirmation.

2. “Oh… you think so?” – It’s a yes or no question. If I know anything, I know that kids need practice answering yes or no questions. It also forces them to re-examine their original idea, which can either teach them valuable skill or at least make them stop talking for a while. 

3. “That’s Good Thinking, Chief”  – Whether the thinking was sound or not isn’t the issue; they’ll forget what they said anyway. This response provides solid positive reinforcement for exploring profound issues. And all kids like being called Chief. It’s a fact!!

4. “Oh Man, Are you Serious!?!?” – The key is excitement. If you match their enthusiasm, they’ll love you forever, and more importantly, they’ll think you were actually listening.