April Fool’s Day is nearly here, which means all your unfunny friends are about to announce their fake pregnancies, marking a day that is often more annoying than amusing. However, young kids love to pull pranks, and it can be fun to bask in their utter glee — if we teach them what makes a good prank and what, decidedly, does not.
So let’s talk about how to bestow our prank wisdom on them, and identify a few good starter pranks along the way.
Teach them to know their audience
The main lesson I have tried to impart to my 10-year-old — who has loved a good prank since about age five or six — is that when you pull a prank, everyone should be laughing at the end, not just the prankster. That’s the difference between laughing at someone (mean) and laughing with someone (not mean). This can be a hard concept to grasp, though, because one person’s amusement is another person’s worst nightmare.
We had already talked about this, but he really got the concept the time he tried to prank me by taping a fake spider to the wall in the hallway outside my bedroom door. I awoke one morning to head to the bathroom, not bothering to put my glasses on. The darkness of the hallway, combined with my half-asleep, half-blind state at that moment, made it so that I didn’t notice the spider until I was basically on top of it — and yet it was still blurry enough to look very real for a split second.
As someone who is scared of even the tiniest, most harmless of spiders, I screamed. Not like a silly little “oh my!” kind of noise but like an actual, terrified scream. (It was big, ok?) My kid felt horrible because he truly thought I’d recognise it as a fake right away and laugh, but he realises now that the way to make someone laugh is not by trying to startle them with something they’re known to not like.
Now we talk through how to plan a prank that the prankee is most likely to personally find funny — not just what the prankster thinks is hilarious. It’s good practice to talk through pranks with them and try to imagine, together, how grandma might respond to a certain prank versus how grandpa might respond to it and try to choose the right prank for the right person.
We could all use a few extra laughs right now, but our kids, in particular, have had a rough go of it this year. With quarantine still stretching out ahead of us, now is a good time to lighten the mood in the home — with some good old-fashioned stand-up...Read more
Research pranks together
When you kid wants to pull a prank but has absolutely no idea what to do, you can start researching some ideas together. When you do, you will discover that so many pranks out there for kids to pull on their friends, family, or teachers just…aren’t funny. It’s a lot of gross foods disguised as treats (replacing the filling of an Oreo with toothpaste is just a waste of a good Oreo), hidden cans of sardines, and lying to friends and extended family about moving to another state.
Here are a few easy pranks I personally like, from Good Housekeeping (these are meant to be pulled on kids, but a parent and kid could easily team up to pull it on another loved one):
- Googly eyes: This gag couldn’t be easier for a PG-rated gag: Get out that bag of googly eyes from the craft drawer, and open the fridge. Place a set of eyes on everything you see: the carton of milk, the veggies, all the condiments. They’ll crack up when they go in for breakfast, only to see all those little eyes staring back at them.
- Shower gag: Unscrew the cap from their everyday shampoo, conditioner, or shower gel. Inside, affix a small piece of plastic wrap — then re-screw the cap. When they squeeze that bottle and nothing comes out — over and over again — they’ll eventually figure out it’s an April Fool’s gag.
- Drink discovery: Add food colouring to an opaque drink carton — say, a carton of milk or orange juice. When they pull it from the fridge to pour a drink, they’ll pour out a freaky surprise.
- Totally buggin’: This April Fool’s joke is as old as they come — but it’s a timeless classic! Get yourself a pack of plastic bugs and freeze them into ice cubes so that the kids’ cold drink gives them a good freakout. (Extra gross-out points if you use plastic roaches.) Plastic bugs also work for a cheap thrill when placed in drawers, under pillows — anywhere around the house where kids will discover them with a squeal!
(Yeah, apparently I’m fine with plastic bugs that aren’t spiders, but we all have different freak-out thresholds, so your mileage may vary.)
Why you may also want a “decoy prank”
Leading up to April Fool’s Day a few years ago, when my son was really starting to dabble in pranks, it was basically all he could talk about for a couple of days. He really wanted to prank his dad, but he couldn’t stop himself from talking about it in front of his dad, so the guy knew something was surely coming. For that reason, coupled with the fact that little kid pranks tend to be rather obvious and my son was desperate to really get him, we came up with a decoy prank.
For the decoy prank, we stuffed his shoes full of paper towels so that when he went to put his shoes on in the morning, he couldn’t get his feet all the way in. He laughed, we laughed, and he figured that was that. Then, before he left for work, I asked him to grab something for me from the refrigerator and when he did, he was not expecting to discover a toy snake wrapped around the gallon of milk in strangely lifelike fashion. He was totally surprised and delighted, laughed even harder at the real prank, and absolutely made our kid’s day.