30 Genius Parenting Hacks Shared By Experienced Moms And Dads
Parenting is a rewarding journey, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. Thankfully, the parenting community on Reddit has become a treasure trove of wisdom, with parents sharing their ingenious “child hacks” to make life a little easier.
In response to the question, “Parents of Reddit: What’s the best ‘Child Hack’ you’ve figured out to make your life as a parent easier?” here are some brilliant tips that have resonated with fellow parents.
I told my kid her ears turn red when she tells a lie, now she covers her ears when she lies. She is almost 7 and it still works.
So the children won’t ask me, repeatedly, to buy a new toy on any given shopping trip – I allow them to choose a “store toy” to keep them company for the duration of the visit. They care for it, typically while sitting in a shopping cart, and then bid it farewell in a goodbye ritual at checkout (“bye store toy! See you next time!”). They are sated after that and there is never drama.
My wife and I came up with a short unique whistle that both kids knew meant come here to us. Works in malls, water parks or just to come in and clean up for dinner. Fellow parents were amazed by this. Teach them early.
During the years their bedtime is 8pm or earlier, put away your laptop and phone and just say ‘yes’ to anything they want to play. Much easier for everyone.
Teach your toddler a few signs before they can talk (eat, drink, more, play, etc). Cuts down on their frustrations caused by not being able to communicate.
Not a parent, but a teacher. My best “hack” aims to tackle oppositional defiance, a fancy way of saying “a kid who does the opposite of what you’ve asked, just because you’ve asked”.
This strategy is called choice/choice.
Let’s say you ask your 4-5 y/o to go get her shoes, and she screams “No!”. Instead of repeating the demand, (“Get your shoes now, or else!) present the illusion of choice. “You have two choices: If you go get your own shoes, I will let you pick which pair you wear today. If you do not get your own shoes, I will pick what you wear today. ” The choices you offer can sometimes provide incentive towards the choice you want then to choose.
Giving children choices provides them with limited freedom and individuality. This is important in developing your child’s confidence in their own choices.
Choice/ choice can also be used to encourage children to take responsibility. I have a student in my class who is very oppositional defiant. If I say go to the right, he goes to the left. He will constantly try to push the limits of our classroom rules. When he does this, I offer him choice/ choice. I prefer this method with him because it leaves no room for him to argue, or blame me when he doesn’t get what he wants.
For example, if he has an upset outburst in class, I will say, “You have two choices: You can either use your coping skills and stay in the classroom, or you can take a break in our buddy room. You have thirty seconds to make your choice. It is up to you.” This works better than “Go to the office!” or traditional punishment because 1. I’m allowing him to have some control, 2. I’m giving him a time frame, 3. I’m not placing blame, 4. I’m stating the choices in a calm way (no invitation for aggression), and 5. the choices are concrete enough that he can’t manipulate the outcome.
I’d highly recommend this strategy to anyone who has a child who is displaying defiant/argumentative behavior.
Teach them how to express their feelings and validate them when they do.
Routines are great just generally.
Also in the early days making sure the child knows the difference between day and night is really useful in teaching them that night time is quiet time. The amount of friends who get their newborn baby up when it cries in the night and then play with it baffles me.
Make “No helmet no wheels” the law with no exceptions from the moment they get their first tricycle. Wear your own helmet when you ride together. Let them pick out cool colors etc. Come down hard the first time you catch him or her without.
This saved my son’s life when he was hit and dragged under a van!
Mother of two teenagers. Don’t just listen but ask. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no. Then follow up with a few more questions about the answers given, and before you know it, they are talking to you without trying. Example: I don’t ask my kids “How was your day?”. I ask something very specific like “I see you are reading ‘certain book’ in class. I don’t think I read that, what’s it about?”. They generally give me a brief rundown so I follow up with maybe “do you have to do a project on it? What ideas do you have?”, things like that. After 1 or 2 questions like that they just keep talking about the class, then the class after or before then I know their whole day. They’ve gotten so use to just conversing with me, I don’t have to try that hard to get the ball rolling anymore unlike some of my friends who are amazed my teenage kids actually talk to me. Also, those conversation starter questions are a great go to. At dinner, no one is allowed a phone, even us adults. So I have a list of conversation starters and just start asking and everyone has to answer the question. Often times will only get to the 2nd or 3rd question before we’ve moved on to a totally different and offbeat topic, having a really great and fun conversation about something random, like is a hamburger a sandwich or it’s own thing? Or is Indiana Jones central to his own storyline? You know, the important stuff.
Put sunscreen on at home, before you get to the beach/pool/park. They know we’re not going anywhere till it’s on. Saves me from the scramble at the destination because they’re always too excited to hold still and I’m in a rush, so it’s not a thorough job. Sunscreen takes 20 minutes to kick in anyway.
My daughter would run away from me at the grocery store when I had my infant son in the cart. So I put tap shoes on her when we went shopping.
Obligatory “Not a Parent” but one piece of advice I saw on Reddit a while ago that I intend to carry forward.
Realize that while the problem your child may be having is ultimately meaningless, it could very well be the most painful thing that has ever happened to them.
Your five year old stub their toe and won’t stop crying? That might actually have been the most pain they’ve ever felt and the little throbbing after might make it seem like it’ll never end. They don’t know better, and they won’t know better till they experience it for themselves and only for themselves.
Your teenage daughter just got dumped by her boyfriend or her favorite band broke up? This emotional trauma, however ridiculous, might actually be the worst emotional pain she’s ever felt. She doesn’t know that it’ll fade soon enough and one day she’ll even laugh at how she acted, and there is nothing you can say that will teach her this.
Your children have to learn these things for themselves, simply telling them “You’ll get over it.” IS a true statement, but it will feel like you are dismissing their problems. And if the worst pain they’ve ever felt is something you as their parent will dismiss, then don’t be surprised when they don’t come to you for something serious.
When your kid sees something they want like a toy or game and you can’t/don’t want to buy it tell them to “put it on the list.”
If they’re the type of kid that will follow through then you have a handy list for Christmas or birthdays. If not, then they’ll forget about it.
Helps avoid arguments in the store because you aren’t really saying no.
We are trying to get our kids to understand money by explaining how much stuff costs relative to something they find valuable. “Your new glasses are worth 3 bikes, so be very careful with them.” “Why didn’t we go to Disneyland for vacation? Because it would cost 10 trampolines… And we had to build a new fence which also cost 10 trampolines… And mom and dad don’t have enough for 20 trampolines.”
I also play a game at the grocery store with my kids where I let them guess how much the groceries are going to cost. They would guess what they thought was a high number like $75 and then it would ring through at $250 and their mouths would just hang open. “That’s why I get mad when you waste food! I could have bought almost 3 bikes with that money!”
Whenever either of my toddlers was crying or whining in the car, I would point to something invisible out the window and say “hey! do you see that over there?!” By the time they realized they couldn’t figure out what I was pointing at, they’d forgotten the reason they were whining. Amazing how many times that worked.
Making them start the day over again. Some days they would wake up in the WORST mood. Just cranky and awful. I would tell them I needed them to start the day over because it hadn’t worked right the first time. Going through the motions of having to climb back into bed, close their eyes, then pretend to wake up again made them giggle so much that it usually made for a much smoother start to the day.
When mine were younger, say, three or four, and it was close to time to stop playing at the park or in the pool, I always gave them plenty of warning using a concrete timeline that they could understand. Instead of saying “we’re leaving soon” or “five more minutes”, I would tell them something like “ok, let me see you jump in the pool. Seven more jumps and we’re leaving “. Sometimes the number was higher, but never less than five. Less than five was always met with “come on, just one more!!” Which usually wasn’t allowed. Seven or more was always such a big number that they seemed to get their fill and were ready to go when it was time.
No a parent, but when I was a child my mom would hide her 4 glass birds (little sculptures she had) around the house. My sister and I had to look for them. We had to be very careful while looking so we didnt break them. If we broke one, we lost. If we left drawers/door/cabinets open, we lost.
You would think that we could tie and each find two birds, but it never happened. We would go to mom when we gave up, and she would hide them all over again.
It wasnt until I was an adult did I realize that she never hid a fourth bird. But boy did we spend a *looong* time looking
Whenever we go to the grocery store instead of listening to my son(4 years old) cry about all of the stuff he can’t have I just tell him he can have one thing and one thing only. So he grabs cookies. Then when we get to the ice cream isle he decides he wants ice cream, then changes to Captain crunch. But every time we go back and put up the last thinghe chose. It teaches him to decide what he really wants instead of wanting everything and whining the whole time.
Teach your kids to read VERY EARLY.
Read to them as soon as you bring them home; but really focus at age 2. Start making them read back to you at 3. Make it fun.
When you give a kid the love of reading at an early age, the rest of school is usually a cake walk. They are ahead of the curve in many ways. And, if they love reading, they always have something to do, and if you buy them a book when they are good and make a reward out of it? You don’t need to wait for another Harry Potter to come out to get them to read.
My mother did it with her children, I did it with mine. It works.
Lasagne bedding. Waterproof sheet, sheet, waterproof sheet, sheet. No changing wet beds in the night, just pull off top layer and change child!
If you have a hard time getting them to eat their vegetables give them before the dinner because thats when they are hungry and will eat almost anything, give them some carrots and cucumbers in a glass which is a great snack.
1. Any food they didn’t like was labeled turkey. They are 12 and 8 and only just realized fish isn’t turkey. They would always wonder why turkey has so many different flavors and how they like some but not others. ?
2. Starting as soon as they can walk, ask for help for just about everything. And they will help and enjoy being needed. And when they do tasks and ask for help, help them. They will always help if you teach them to do it as a family instead of an individual task. Clean house…yes, please!
3. Biggest one of all – listen to them. Everything they say to you is really important to them, no matter how stupid it is. And learn what they like, even if it’s boring. This comes in handy when they’re older.
I had 3 kids very close in age. At one point I assigned them each a day of the week (they each got two and Sunday was the leftover) Whatever the question was, the answer was whose day is it. Who gets to go first? Who gets to ride in the front? Who has to take their bath first? I saved so many arguments with this.
Teach them how to adult.
Give them chores. Early pick up their toys. It will make them better people in the long run. My kids take turns wiping down and sweeping the bathroom and kitchen. One does kitchen one night, the other the bathroom and then flip the next night.
Show them how to do their laundry, it is such an easy thing to do really, just a hassle (at least to me, the wife loves it)
Teach them to cook, start with the microwave and move to the stove and oven. Knowing how to use a kitchen is important.
Give them a little allowance. If they do what they should they get paid. If they half-a*s their chores or don’t do them, they don’t. Teaches you have to do the work to keep a job.
Allowance also lets them manage their money. If you just buy them things occasionally, they never learn the value of a dollar or how to save. They both have something big they want to save for and when they ask if they can by something else I ask them if they are positive they want to set themselves back in getting their big ticket item. Sometimes it is yes, they think it’s worth it and sometimes it is no, they will save their money. It’s great they are learning to save and also what is a priority for them. Is a tablet worth more to you than that sketch book? It isn’t? Then get the sketch book.
School doesn’t teach ‘adulting’ to kids. You have to do it or just hope for them to figure it out and then actually do it.
Learn to say thank you and I’m sorry to them. It makes you closer and helps your relationship with them no matter what age.
Experiences are better than things.
Waking up before them makes the day a lot easier.
Find a way to see them when you’re driving.
When my kids were little my wife worked at a health club and I would take the kids swimming in the evening. We’d always pack their PJs for their clothes they’d change into after swimming. That way, they got out of the pool, showered, and changed in to pajamas. They didn’t always go to bed right when we got home, but they were always ready for bed when we got home.
It was my wife’s idea.
Not a parent, but a daycare worker, and I learned this through reddit: If a Child is having a meltdown, ask what color their shoes/shirts/pants/whatever clothing their wearing are. This distracts the child long enough to stop them in the midst of their meltdown because they haven’t thought about what they’re wearing. I used this trick *twice* on a kid today who was just having a terrible day. Calmed them right down.
If you threaten a consequence, follow through 100% of the time. Kids will test boundaries at every age, you just have to make it appropriate for their age group.
“If you throw sand again we are leaving the beach “ – you must leave the beach
“If you don’t clean your room no screen time tomorrow” – no screen time.
The key is to make the consequences not impact you to the point that you don’t want to follow through since it will ruin your day too. A hard line to toe, but boy do boundaries and trust work.
Edit: explained further below
Kids will always test boundaries 100%. But that doesn’t mean you go full force consequence every time. This is different than giving a consequence every time- you can explain why you don’t want them to throw the sand first. Talk to them about why they threw it. Take them in the water for a bit. But if you threaten to leave the beach once all of those things fail, you have to follow through.
A teen breaking curfew once is not a “take away your phone and computer and you’re grounded for 3 months” consequence. But maybe the 12th time is.