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Game Theory Secrets for Parents
WSJ ^ | July 10, 2014 | Jennifer Breheny Wallace

Posted on 07/14/2014 12:59:50 PM PDT by 1rudeboy

Can't get your children to eat their vegetables or clean up their toys? Game theory offers some solutions.

The party is over, and you're down to the last bit of cake. All three of your children want it. If you're familiar with game theory, you might think of the classic strategy in which one person cuts the cake and the other chooses the slice. But how do you divide it three ways without anyone throwing a fit?

Game theory is, in essence, the science of strategic thinking—a way of making the best decision possible based on the way you expect other people to act. It was once the domain of Nobel Prize-winning economists and big thinkers on geopolitics, but now parents are getting in on the act. Though game theory assumes, as a technical matter, that its players are rational, it applies just as well to not-always-rational children.

A key lesson in game theory, says Barry Nalebuff, a professor at the Yale School of Management, is to understand the perspective of the other players. It isn't about what you would do in another person's shoes, he says; it's about what they would do in their shoes. "Good game theory," he says, "appreciates the quirks and features that make us unique and takes us as we are." The same could be said of good parenting.

So how to deal with the problem of dividing a piece of cake into three equal shares? Try this: After the first child cuts and the second one chooses, each child further cuts his or her own slice into thirds. The third child then chooses a third of a slice from each plate. It might get messy, but all three should feel fairly treated.

Here are a few more practical, game theory-based solutions....

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Science; Society
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 07/14/2014 12:59:50 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy

“The Prisoner’s Dilemma.”

Who is who, here? /S


2 posted on 07/14/2014 1:03:24 PM PDT by Pearls Before Swine
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To: 1rudeboy
The father of a picky eater I know uses a clever tactic to get the child to eat a variety of foods. When he puts one type of food on his son's plate, the child often refuses it. But if he ups the initial price to four different foods, his son will eat two, feeling that he's "won" the negotiation by eating only half of what's asked.

Or just let them go hungry. They'll eat food they don't like long before they'll actually harm their health.

3 posted on 07/14/2014 1:07:16 PM PDT by ConservingFreedom (A goverrnment strong enough to impose your standards is strong enough to ban them.)
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To: 1rudeboy
It might get messy, but all three should feel fairly treated.

And there's the problem, ladies and gentlemen; this compulsion to make sure 'everybody's a winner.' I'm sorry, but everybody's NOT a winner, life isn't fair, and sometimes, people get the short end of the stick.

Rather than letting the kids cut the cake, cut it yourself and tell them to shut up about who has the bigger piece. You're older and you have more insurance (with apologies to Cathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes).

4 posted on 07/14/2014 1:09:23 PM PDT by Quality_Not_Quantity (Liars use facts when the truth doesn't suit their purposes.)
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To: ConservingFreedom
Or just let them go hungry. They'll eat food they don't like long before they'll actually harm their health.

Hey now! We can't have that! That's not fair to the little tykes. Just run right out and buy a case of Pediasure for those picky eaters.

5 posted on 07/14/2014 1:11:03 PM PDT by Quality_Not_Quantity (Liars use facts when the truth doesn't suit their purposes.)
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To: ConservingFreedom
That's the way it worked in my family growing up (6 kids). If one of us whined about what we had on our plate, it disappeared before Mom could even respond.

I was the runt of the litter until I learned to stop complaining.

6 posted on 07/14/2014 1:11:23 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: 1rudeboy

Here’s one that DOESN’T work:

Would you like to eat your peas first or your broccoli?


7 posted on 07/14/2014 1:11:23 PM PDT by DManA
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To: Quality_Not_Quantity

Don’t forget to hit them! LOL


8 posted on 07/14/2014 1:14:13 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy

Game theory Smame theory,

4 people, 3 pieces of cake, set a piece of cheese on the table. Take a knife start cutting the piece of cheese and fart real loud.

They run off you get all 3 pieces of cake.


9 posted on 07/14/2014 1:16:15 PM PDT by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
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To: 1rudeboy
After the first child cuts and the second one chooses, each child further cuts his or her own slice into thirds. The third child then chooses a third of a slice from each plate. It might get messy, but all three should feel fairly treated.

what?! what?! what mind-think is being fed to our super-egos here under the keyword guise of 'fair'?? Why are children cutting the cake instead of a parent? And why isn't the child who did eat his broccoli or asparagus rewarded with a slightly larger piece of cake, cut by the parent, over the obstinate child who refused? If I lose an online game of solitaire, I don't get 'extra' points from some player down the line that won. Wow. Just wow.

10 posted on 07/14/2014 1:18:52 PM PDT by blueplum
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To: ConservingFreedom
Farmer was sitting on the front porch talking to his neighbor about the likelyhood of rain, when the farmer's wife comes out, puts lima beans in the dog's pan, and calls the dog.

Dog comes over and likety-split, eats all the lima beans up, and goes back under the porch for a nap.

Neighbor says to the farmer: "I don't think my dog would eat lima beans".

To which, the farmer replies: "Neither would he..... for a month."

/johnny

11 posted on 07/14/2014 1:19:51 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: blueplum
what mind-think is being fed to our super-egos here under the keyword guise of 'fair'??

It's called "game theory," a branch of economics, itself a social science.

12 posted on 07/14/2014 1:21:00 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Quality_Not_Quantity

Exactly!

How I handle it.

One piece of cake? Well, Bobby didn’t take out the trash as promised. Sue forgot her homework, but Claire did feed the dogs as she’s supposed to.

Claire gets the cake.


13 posted on 07/14/2014 1:21:14 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Responsibility2nd

Those who do not work; neither shall they eat.


14 posted on 07/14/2014 1:22:22 PM PDT by Quality_Not_Quantity (Liars use facts when the truth doesn't suit their purposes.)
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To: 1rudeboy
I prefer the little shocker thing I used to train my hunting dogs.















(Kidding. But a couple of times my littlest one tempted me.)
15 posted on 07/14/2014 1:24:30 PM PDT by TheThirdRuffian (RINOS like Romney, McCain, Christie are sure losers. No more!)
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To: 1rudeboy

Then the 3 year-old will throw a tantrum, because her cake is “broken”.


16 posted on 07/14/2014 1:24:45 PM PDT by NEMDF
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To: Quality_Not_Quantity

Conversation (more than a few times) at the R2 house....

Kids: We’re hungry. What’s for supper?

Mom: Who knows? That dishwasher is still full from last night as nobody put the clean dishes away. Supper isn’t happening till that’s done.

> > Kids will sulk and gripe. But dishes get put away.


17 posted on 07/14/2014 1:27:15 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: 1rudeboy

The last piece of cake dilemma is something I’ve never had a problem with.

Because I always eat the last piece of cake.


18 posted on 07/14/2014 1:32:08 PM PDT by MeganC (Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)
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To: Responsibility2nd
I don't disagree with any of your methods, but you are discussing a different topic. You are taking the opportunity to induce or punish behavior (I'm not implying anything negative). Here, in the cake example, we are discussing Pareto Efficiency.
19 posted on 07/14/2014 1:33:08 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: ConservingFreedom

You would think so, but some people will actually starve themselves before they will eat “icky” food. I saw an episode of Survivorman where he had his son with him and his son would not eat mussels despite not having eaten for two or three days.


20 posted on 07/14/2014 1:37:41 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (The cure has become worse than the disease. Support an end to the WOD now.)
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To: Vigilanteman

I grew up in a large family of 6 kids, too. You ate what mama cooked or you went hungry. There were no leftovers in our house.


21 posted on 07/14/2014 1:40:32 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (The cure has become worse than the disease. Support an end to the WOD now.)
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To: ImJustAnotherOkie

Farts are like children. You can’t stand any but your own.


22 posted on 07/14/2014 1:42:39 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (The cure has become worse than the disease. Support an end to the WOD now.)
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To: 1rudeboy
So how to deal with the problem of dividing a piece of cake into three equal shares?

How about "If you three don't stop whining about how your brother or sister got a bigger piece, I'm throwing the whole damn cake down the garbage disposal and none of you will have any."

23 posted on 07/14/2014 2:04:34 PM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

Please see my comment #19.


24 posted on 07/14/2014 2:07:01 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: DManA
Would you like to eat your peas first or your broccoli?

My kids love broccoli. Peas? Not so much. I don't think I ate broccoli knowingly until I was 19.

25 posted on 07/14/2014 2:29:19 PM PDT by IYAS9YAS (Has anyone seen my tagline? It was here yesterday. I seem to have misplaced it.)
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To: 1rudeboy

If my kids complained about “fair” I took a fork and started taking bites to make sure it was “even”.

They stopped.


26 posted on 07/14/2014 2:54:45 PM PDT by Grammy (Save the earth... it's the only planet with chocolate.)
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To: 1rudeboy

I eat the cake and too damned bad for the kids....when they are mean parents, they too can eat the cake!!


27 posted on 07/14/2014 3:04:06 PM PDT by terycarl
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To: 1rudeboy

Here’s how game theory worked at our house. I would take the three pieces of cake.

“We’re going to play a game. Pick a number from one to ten.”

“Five.”

“Eight.”

“Good choices!”

Then I ate all three pieces.


28 posted on 07/14/2014 3:11:36 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: ConservingFreedom

Agree. Looking at the general size of kids these days, skipping the cake would be a pretty good idea.


29 posted on 07/14/2014 3:37:28 PM PDT by OldNewYork
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