What whatever you want your child to do, they will do the opposite.
I have a theory that reverse psychology was created by parents trying to control their children.
It's certainly true that children, and most people, can be lead by reverse psychology. So long as you don't let on that you're trying to trick them they'll almost always fall for it. I've used this particular technique on Jack many times but I try not to over use it. Jack has more than once proven that he's not easily tricked and I don't want to lose my big gun. However I've often wondered what it is that makes it work, I don't believe that children are generally malicious but it does very often seem that Jack won't want to do something simply because he knows that I want him to, or vice versa.
Jack is read a story every night at bed time. We've acquired quite an extensive collection of stories for him over the years, some he likes and others he doesn't.
The only problem is that for weeks Jack will insist on the same story night after night. It's not really a problem until it's comes around to a story that Helen or I dislike, and there are quite a few of these.
There are a few of these stories in his collection but we'll just focus on the one for this blog, we'll call it Story A. Helen and I dislike the story for many reasons but mostly it's just a crap story. No matter how we pleaded we couldn't get him away from it at bed time, for weeks we were forced to read it to him every single night. So one night when he asked for the story I thought up a flawless plan and responded with "Yay! I love that story." Jack was puzzled but didn't pay me much mind.
I carried on with this behaviour for a week or so, I even started recommending the story before he'd get a chance to request it. At the beginning of the next week Helen asked what story he'd like and Jack hesitated, I jumped in and said "as long as it's not Story B I don't mind." Jack went with Story A as we expected and I played excited. The next night the same thing, I said "Anything but Story B, that one makes me grumpy." Jack finally took the bait and I huffed and grumped all the way through the story. Success.
Now when we ask him what story he would like he'll say Daddy what's not your favourite? To which I reply with whatever story I feel has done me ill will over recent time, it's great. We haven't read Story A in months. But it is a little unsettling knowing that Jack so enthusiastically and consistently does something that supposedly makes me angry... but oh well, I'm still counting it as a win. My flawless plan worked flawlessly...
A few nights ago we went through the usual routine and got to the story. When it came to the story Jack asked What's not your favourite?
I don't know really, I don't like any of them. What story don't you like?
I want the story that's not your favourite.
Well how about we read a story that makes you miserable for a change?
Ok then, I don't like Story A... I think he may be on to me.