Five Stupid Ways To Outsmart Your Kids!

Hey everyone – it’s Guest Posting time again – and this time we’re hearing from a guy’s perspective! Check out Will Jones’ tactics on how playing dumb can teach your kids some great life lessons. Thanks Will!

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As a kid, I was much smarter than my father. I’m not sure at what age I reached that realization, but I didn’t jot it down anywhere, so it was probably before I could write. I can remember that the simplest things use to confuse him, and often I had a feeling that, if I hadn’t been there to help, he would have been in real trouble. I actually remember thinking, “How in the world did this man make it to being a grown-up if he can’t figure this stuff out?” I was a teen before I realized that my dad’s cluelessness was a sham, but of course, as a teen, I was too self-centered to put much thought into why anyone would WANT to appear unintelligent.

It wasn’t until I started to raise my own children that I truly understood the genius behind his folly. My father had realized early on, that I (like most kids) was stubborn, but competitive; I didn’t like to be forced to do anything, but if no one else could do something, I wanted to be the one to figure it out. I can’t number the things I learned to do simply because I assumed he couldn’t. Genius!

Although I have never asked my father outright whether or not he played dumb for me, his tongue-in-cheek answers about some of the situations of my childhood have more than answered the question. So now I’m a dad myself I’ve followed his lead and come up with five simple rules for outsmarting your kids.  (Dad will be so proud!)

Rule one: PLAY DUMB Kids have amazing imaginations from the earliest ages, but imaginations are like muscles; they need to be fed and exercised to grow strong. Play with your kids WHENEVER you get the chance, but let them lead the way. If he’s on a pirate ship, then be his pirate, not his captain; if he’s a superhero, be his sidekick. When he graduates to chess or checkers, don’t beat the pants off of him, but keep the games close. He’ll remember the strategies that you “almost” beat him with.

Rule two: ADMIT YOUR DUMB MISTAKES At my daughter’s tea parties (which I regularly attended) I often accidently knocked over the pot full of imaginary tea with my elbow, and then apologized, or put my napkin on my shoulder or over my head, instead of on my lap. Soon, she would watch for my mistakes, and correct them for me. As terrible a guest as I was, it’s a wonder that she always invited me back for the next party.

Rule three: DON’T ANSWER; ASK More often than not, when I went to my father with a problem, his answer was, “Wow. Well, what are you gonna do?” When my bike tire was flat, he asked if I knew how to fix it or if there were instructions on the new inner tube box (and there were). When I wanted money for something, he’d ask, “well, how are you gonna make enough money for that? Do you think the neighbors would pay you to rake leaves? I wonder if your uncle would pay you to wash his truck.” Sometimes I wouldn’t even bother asking. For all the help he gave, I might as well just figure out how to solve my problems myself. (Genius, I tell you!)

Rule four: BE HELPLESS A dad should never be able to do anything by himself. Putting together bookshelves, stringing Christmas lights, changing the oil on the car, setting up a tent, all of these jobs should require at least two people. Of course, tasks must be age appropriate and safety is the most important thing, but whether tiny hands are holding the flashlight and instructions or older hands are learning the difference between a Philips screwdriver and a flat-head while passing dad tools, helpers feel needed and are proud to be helping.

Rule five: TRY TO PLEASE Don’t be afraid to actually be dumb about some things. Kids have to learn that they probably won’t be good at something the first time they try it. Dads must lead by example. Admit that you really don’t know how to do something, but you’ll try it anyway. My first front flip from a diving board couldn’t have been uglier, but I kept trying and they got better. Soon my son and daughter did front flips almost as ugly as mine. We as dads must always give points when our kids try their hardest to do their best. We must also remember… our kids give us those points too. And later on, a kid that thinks he’s in trouble is a lot more likely to talk to a dad that he’s seen screw up from time to time.

Well, that’s it, Dads (and Moms). Good luck putting these rules into effect. And remember don’t be afraid to play dumb!

William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few, spare moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing.