Teach kids to persuade

One of our favorite family games is Snake Oil. We’ve been playing it for about a year, creating new product ideas, then persuading others that our product will work and will be necessary in the real world. In playing, I learned something about my kids –they have a lot more persuasive power than I thought. Given the time and circumstance, they wowed us with their creative story telling methods to convince us to “buy” their products.


I realized, too, that the kids’ conversational vocabulary has blossomed… when they became “sales people,” they became very professional, choosing bigger words in their presentations than they use everyday.

I’m used to them attempting to persuade me to buy the sugary cereal or let them stay up an extra hour, but this was a different type of persuasion. This involved creative energy, a bit of acting, and a lot of presentation. This game is an eye-opener to what they can do. The best way to learn to do something is by practicing. Here are 4 ways to teach your kids to be more persuasive

How to teach kids to persuade


When children play games, they may not realize they’re learning (or, if they do, they’ll admit to enjoying it.) Set aside some time and introduce a new family game. Given basic supplies, the kids have a task ahead of them. Use your creativity here and come up with some tasks. Some ideas include:

  • baking the best cookies,
  • creating a home for a fake pet,
  • creating a product to solve a fictional problem–these problems can be simple or completely off the wall.
    • We ran out of bandages! Create something we can use.
    • The three footed-monster needs new clothes, what will he wear?
    • An astronaut wants to bring something to space that will make his life easier up there. What can you create for him?
    • The traffic controller keeps spilling his coffee. Invent something to help him.

Now that everyone has his assignment, carve out some planning time. Whether people create things with supplies or their minds, they’re working to creatively solve the problem. Then, after an agreed upon amount of time, everyone has a chance to present or “sell” their creation with the team, trying to sell it as the best solution to solve the problem.


How badly does your 8-year-old want a new bike, an iPod or the latest American Girl Doll? If she wants it enough, she’ll sell you on it. Give her some time to determine 3-5 reasons she wants to have this big item and let her present her pitch to you.

Ahead of time, be sure to remind her that “everyone else has it” and “I really, really, really, really, really want it” aren’t usually good enough reasons. Also tell her that she should remember her audience (you) and think about what you’re thinking while you sit there listening–what will you want to hear?

This isn’t an easy concept for younger children to grasp as they often see the world from just their eyes. It’s helpful to begin with the creative examples, like those, above. It’s also useful to be a roll-model first–convincing your child of something by putting yourself in his shoes. (It can be as simple as convincing your child to wear sneakers rather than flip flops, making sure to relate to your child’s interests rather than your own. “It’s a great idea to wear sneakers today because it hurts so so so badly when you step on a pebble in flip flops. Ouch! That always makes me cry!” versus “You should wear sneakers because it’s the rules at the park.”)

My son recently typed a proposal for a new loft bed for his room. He formatted it with bullets and included how he would utilize the additional area, how it would  make a difference in his life and the changes he promised to make. Unfortunately, for him, he didn’t address my number one concern: who would be responsible for making the bed when it was so high off the ground.


Discuss ways that commercials and advertisements persuade (or attempt to persuade) people every day. Select one and pick it apart, identifying the techniques used such as they tell you why you need it, rather than want it or the advertisement appeals to the shopper by making the product something they can’t live without. Also discuss who the shopper is that they’re presenting the advertisement to? What words did they use to help convince the buyer to buy it? (A great example is the Wow Cup advertisement. That mess across the rug would convince any mom she needs this cup!)

A quick YouTube search of “persuasive speech kids” gives examples of real life kids giving real life speeches on everything to stopping smoking to letting a child play sports. Select one or two (watch it first to make sure you approve of it) and watch it with your kids. Did they persuade you? Why or why not? What could they have done to be more persuasive?

Here’s a great video where a 4th grade child convinces adults to stop smoking. Watch it and ask your kids who she is trying to convince and how did she do it?


Persuasive games allow your family to be creative and compelling while enjoying time together. Here are a few games that will help your kids become stronger at persuasion while having fun:

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2014, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

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