Make It Seem Awesome

Despite what you might guess, I don’t use reverse psychology to trick my kids into things too often.  Instead, one of my most favorite parenting tricks is what I call the ‘Make it seem awesome’ technique.  I’m pretty sure you won’t find it on Wikipedia, but if you think about it you’d probably have to admit that you utilize this little trick all the time at your house too!

Here’s how it works.  When explaining what I want my kids to do, I highlight all of the positives about the chore, task, or activity.  I mean I really make it sound good!  Sometimes I embellish a little.  I don’t lie, I just accentuate the good and downplay the bad.  By the time I’m done, my enthusiasm naturally rubs off on my kids and they are just as excited as I am!  See, sounds like a pretty magical parenting technique. Right?

Now, the real question you probably have is does this ‘Make it seem awesome’ parenting technique actually work?  I’m sure you have your suspicions, so I’ve got a few case studies to share with you from the trenches.

Case One – Kids under 10.  My two younger kids are totally on board with me turning dull and mundane tasks and activities into fun.  In fact, recently I was able to turn picking up sticks in the yard into a spectacular adventure for my four and seven year old daughters by excitedly talking it up and then keeping their enthusiasm going during the task.  That night at dinner they both talked about it being one of the highlights of their day.  Wow, mission accomplished!  Based on my success, one would think that I could turn just about blah task into something awesome with a little mom directed enthusiasm.

Case Two – Kids 10 and up.  And that’s where this ‘Make it seem awesome’ parenting technique meets its match.  Older kids are not so easy to fool.  My twelve and fourteen year old have clearly fallen for this trick one time too many and now they’re onto me.  They are old enough to know that if something is awesome you don’t have to play it up.  They know what’s wonderful and what’s not.  One of them even said to me recently, “Mom, if you said let’s go to Disney World or let’s go get ice cream, we’d know that was awesome, you wouldn’t have to convince us of it.  But if you have to work so hard to make it sound good, then we probably won’t like it.”  This mom was busted.

Case Three – The mom.  I’ve been a parent now for almost fifteen years.  I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and I’ve certainly got a whole lot left to learn.  But one thing I do know is that there are countless boring, mundane, and downright blah tasks in parenting.  Don’t get me wrong, there are great joys too, but there’s still a TON of work!  Picking up sticks in the yard doesn’t sound that exciting to me either, but when I talk it up with my kids the enthusiasm that I intended for them starts to rub off on me.  I have more fun at parenting when I reframe things from the negative to the positive, when I focus more on the good aspects of the job instead of the bad ones.  You see, what works with my kids works for me too!

So, what’s the final verdict? Does this ‘Make is seem awesome’ parenting trick actually work?  Well, from my experience the answer is sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  And as with most parenting tricks, sometimes is about as good as you’re gonna get.

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About Dr. Polly Dunn

Child clinical psychologist, wife, and mom of four blogging about her 'Perfectly Imperfect' parenting solutions.

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