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August 19, 2012


The Game of 10 What Ifs

What it is


Attitudes are habits of thought created by repeatedly thinking or feeling something.

Why it's Important

Once formed, attitudes provide the personal meaning and relevance for all new information.   Attitudes are also called beliefs.

The Problem

Attitudes operate outside conscious awareness becoming our assumptions, judgments, bias, and ultimately our behavior.  Limiting beliefs and prejudice are attitudes that get in the way of happiness.

The Tip

Play the Game of 10 What Ifs

Object of the Game

Short-circuit negative attitudes by challenging your child to find 10 alternative explanations for something observed.

Game Play
  1. Play begins when your child negatively reacts to something observed. 
  2. Adult validates the comment, “Okay, that might be true,” then offers a funny and semi-silly alternate explanation, “or maybe (_____) is true.”
  3. Adult invites the child to take turns thinking of alternative explanations until all 10 are shared. 
End of Game

Adult subtly comments that all explanations, including the initial negative reaction, may or may not be true.  Only by knowing more can anyone be sure.


None!  Remotely plausible—even ridiculous—explanations count.  If playing with more than one child, bump the What Ifs from 10 to 15 or more.  All explanations are validated with humor and acceptance.

The “Girlfriend Didn’t Call” Example

Initial Negative Reaction:   “She hates me.”

“Okay, that might be true, or maybe her phone broke.”

Child: Her mom wouldn’t let her call

Adult:  She bit her tongue and can’t talk

Child:  She called but I didn’t hear the phone

Adult:  She was abducted by aliens …

Get the picture?



By validating the initial reaction without contradicting, you’ve shown your child great respect.

Lighter Heart

You’ll be surprised how funny the game gets.  Humor lightens even the heaviest heart.


Without jumping to conclusions, your child will learn to respond as things unfold vs. closing down and possibly missing opportunities. 


You create social capital by your demonstration of objectivity.

Promise Kept

We promise to teach our kids how to love and be loved.  By helping to lift limiting beliefs you’re helping them love themselves—the foundation for it all. 


Relevant Articles:  An End to Rough=Housing,  Communication – Top 10 to be Happy,

Relevant Tip of the Week:  Know-It-All, Recognize Perfection,

 The Game of 10 What Ifs

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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