How to Brainwash Your Children

By • on May 27, 2010 12:27 am

The first thing to do, as soon as your baby is born, is to talk to it like a baby. All the time. Don’t talk softly and happily to your child as if he or she could understand you–it must be a condescending performance. This isn’t the occasional prattish ape-face, nor the soft natural ahhs and wows provoked by baby-flesh; instead a constant discharge of whiney dribbly voice-goo and exaggerated gestures. This gets the baby used to, from moment one, the idea that reality isn’t real. It’s a kind of show. This is an ongoing project, and it won’t be easy because children will initially see through it. But eventually you will be able to convince them that the performance of a feeling is more real than the feeling itself.

The next thing to do is make sure your infant’s awareness is always full of noises, gestures, sounds, colors, and other external stimuli. There are plenty of excellent baby-brainwashing devices on sale now with flashing lights and spinning disks and the like. Of course it’s natural to entertain your baby with fantastic sensory effects; but the aim here is to do it constantly. Repetitive digital sound-effects work well, as do light emitting diodes and bright plastic paint. If they are not around, then chatter, yelps, and faces will do. You might like to consider putting your young kid in a carrier or pushchair that faces out into the streets and then walking through a crowded industrial center or shopping mall.

The point of all this is to persuade the infant that the external world is more alluring than the inner world. Guard against allowing the child to enjoy just sitting there gurgling and muttering with pleasure at nothing more than being in its own body.

As early as possible get your kids watching television and playing computer games. Loud rapidly changing CGI scenes of sanitized fantasy smattered with a patina of formal morality work best. The fundamental message of boys’ stories and games should be acquire, get, amass, and expand. The fundamental message of girls’ stories and games should be accept, agree, conform, and follow. But don’t worry about these messages, it’s fine to have boys worrying about not being accepted and for girls to be anxious because their score is low. The purpose here is to instill worry and anxiety through speeding up the psyche and beaming through it a stream of things to ardently want. The implicit idea that dreams only come true on the video screen won’t do you any harm either.

Next: morality. The key here is to have the greatest disparity possible between what you say and what you do. First of all you should constantly go on about what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, what the child should and should not be doing. Make sure that the child gets the idea that quality, life, justice, and so on are a set of rules to follow and ideas to remember. If a child is misbehaving, having a tantrum, being willfully destructive, lazy, etc., tell the child that it’s wrong. The best thing to do is to bargain with your child. Tell him if he does or doesn’t do one thing he’ll get or lose something else.

Remember: “Speak, don’t act.” If your kid won’t eat the meal you cooked for her, then don’t let her go hungry; tell her she’s being silly, and then let her eat what she wants. The child’s sense of right and wrong will come from your actions, your psychic state and your facial expressions, not from your words, so ideally you should be prone to mood swings, be easily angered, irritated or depressed, or be too repressed to hug, kiss, and play with your child. The child will learn its own neuroses from yours; the important thing for you to do is to cover it up with a series of rules, aims, descriptions, explanations, and other fantasies. Religion works very well here, if you have one, but don’t worry if not, atheism is fine.

All this might be hard at first. Some children seem quite unable to see that long discourses about what is right and wrong are boring and have nothing to do with reality, but they’ll learn, just as soon as they get enough rewards for doing the “right” thing.

To sum up: your child must be a semi-person. It must be fed on anti-food, must watch inauthentic stories and play passive games. It must live with people whose emotions and feelings are self-generated and whose ideas about reality are second-hand. It must be instilled with a series of rules, regulations, facts, and ideas that don’t really connect up. It must live its life in a cycle of anxiety, excitement, and depression. It must be bribed with stimulants and threats, and deceived with performance and ideology. It must be tacitly programmed to follow someone else’s script, never to discover who or what he or she really is. This way, the child is ready to enter society. –Darren Allen. See more of Darren’s writing at


By Swift on June 23rd, 2010 at 10:54 am

Very satirical and very true. Nice job.

By Margaret Bartley on July 2nd, 2010 at 9:28 am

Another one:
Be sure to make the baby sleep by itself. Nothing says “The universe is an awful place and I am incapable of changing it” than abandoning an infant to a dark lonely night by itself.

Can you imagine a mama bear or any other mammal pushing its baby ten feet away from her, and ignoring its cries through the night? Maybe stiking it up on a tree, or down a ravine, so it is physically incapable of coming back to her?

This also provides a deep, somatic conditioning that is almost unbreakable – the baby ends up bonding with Things – a stuffed animal, a blanket – and not people. Those are what give comfort through the night.

The babies learn that all people go away and abandon them. That no one can ever be trusted.

By John Chapman on July 21st, 2010 at 11:32 am

Sleeping with your baby can be a means to instill trust and attachment, but it should not be taken as the be-all and end-all. There is a lot more to forming strong attachment than how and where you sleep. It also requires an emotional attentiveness and prescence that is all too often neglected in some of the attachment parenting advice.

I’ve known parents who co-slept for years, but were too anxious and self-absorbed to really be present for their kids. On the other hand, you can shift a child into their own crib/bed fairly early, and be deeply attentive to their emotions and needs (and of course, you can co-sleep and be very attentive). Emotional prescence is more important than where or how one sleeps. Without it, all of the attachment parenting actions are just going through the motions.


By peter on September 4th, 2010 at 10:45 am

It sounds like you live in a hermetically sealed community with no TV, no computer, no crowds of strangers or external distractions; a quiet, isolated place to raise your children in a controlled, safe environment. That is just not the reality for millions upon millions of children who live in a modern world full of electronic media, contradiction and confusion. My children live in a dense urban environment with stimuli I have no control over, go to public schools with peers and teachers I didn’t choose, listen to music, watch TV, play video games, see their parents have conflicts and doubts.
All of us are socialized by the environment around us, how is it that influence of 3rd party media and objects are “brainwashing” and controlled parental socialization is healthy? I think this is just more shameless moralizing about the world around us, separating yourself from the rest of us, holding up a standard by which to judge “the others” as worthless and degenerate.
I see this kind of behavior in religious cults and right wing survivalists, I no longer see it as original thinking or even healthy skepticism; it’s like yelling at the kids to “turn off that music, it’s too loud!” and calling it social commentary.

By Darren Allen on November 19th, 2010 at 1:43 am

Thanks Mr Swift.

Ms Bartley – I have to agree with Mr Chapman – good to sleep with your children, but I don’t believe the bubble of loving awareness is so limited by space.

Mr Peter – Although not isolated, controlled or hermetically sealed, I do live in “a place with no TV, no computer, no crowds of strangers or external distractions; a quiet… safe environment.” I call it my heart.

By nobanksnoborders on December 19th, 2010 at 11:40 am

The title is “how to brainwash your child”

and yet no mention of church is made?

How did you miss that one?

By Darren Allen on December 28th, 2010 at 4:18 am

The above advice can be adapted to any environment, religious or secular. Its unnecessary to single out the church, which is just one of many ideological environments in which you can effectively programme your little automatons. I believe in fact that the church is not as effective as the modern multi-faith / secular liberal-corporate state in replacing reality with a complete convincing ersatz.

By F-CAT on December 30th, 2010 at 3:05 am

I really liked what I had heard about and the first excellent article I read, then was interested in the title of this article, “how to brainwash your children” and disappointed by this false notion about ‘baby-talk’ being the first step in ‘brainwashing’:

This is exactly what my cantankerous middle school friend would say: talking to babies with ‘baby-talk’ is stupid and keeps babies stupid, etc. And this is something an unsocialized, ill-mannered but thoughtful and questioning boy might say. Before condemning human behavior so universal without understanding it, it would be better to properly wonder and investigate.

In fact innate human behavior like talking to babies in a special way (which influences how animals are talked to) is grounded in facts about evolution, sometimes easily perceived. That is,
BABIES HAVE TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE, THAT TAKES A LONG TIME, AND MOTHERS INNATELY USE BABY-TALK TO TEACH IT. This is a well-documented and universal practice, how ‘exagerration’ and other aspects of baby-talk provide an explicit exposure to the sound system of the language. It’s as essential and natural as it could be. Talking to someone ‘like a child’ could be condescending, and people are often insulting to children. but baby-talk shouldn’t be confused what insulting condescension. That is a gross ‘category-mistake.’

No stale and inorganic “theoretical” idea about how humans ‘should’ talk to their babies can do anything about it, it’s like protesting against an anatomical feature. It’s as absurd or useless as saying that babies don’t acquire langauge ‘correctly’ or that a mother cheetah brainwashes their babies with sounds she makes specially for them.

Being against brainwashing is great, but this idea in this essay is just out of touch with known facts about langauge acquisition, so I expect the thoughtful author will investigate and revise his parenting advice, in case it may influence anybody. And this also is why people like Rosetta Stone and Berlitz claiming to teach adults a second langauge ‘the way you learned your first’ are dirty fraudsters.

The essay is also not well-conceived because ‘brainwashing’ or more precicely, the stultification of critical intelligence, indoctrination, behavioral programming, ARE A LOT MORE ANCIENT THAN COMPUTERS, TVS AND FLASHY TOYS, and also a lot simpler: School, Church, Punishment, demands of alleigance, and the atomization of society that repressive hierarchies require. So the essay is profoundly misleading, and also, sarcasm has to be used carefully to be effective, not slathered over an entire train of thought.

I am exercised and spending time here because critizing mothers for innate behavior is really uncalled for, almost peurile. Furthermore, you ‘live in your heart.’ Come on. Doesn’t it live in you? What’s the difference between you and your ‘heart’? How come you don’t live in your gall bladder. Come on, man! It is a serious challenge to find peace as a functioning and integrated member of a collapsing civilization, so concerns about it shouldn’t be dismissed.

By Darren Allen on December 30th, 2010 at 3:35 am

Dear F-Cat, thank you for your comments which are helpful to me. I don’t think I was quite clear enough in this article – but I fear you may be showing some lack of discernment yourself. Please don’t take that the wrong way though.

I quite agree with much of what you say – I particularly share your abhorrence of Berlitz! – but please re-read my opening paragraph again. The natural expressiveness of parents you are referring to I describe as “prattish ape-faces…” and… “soft natural ahhs and wows provoked by baby-flesh.” I could perhaps have been more explicit about the distinction between this natural behaviour – the pure tone communication that is expressed in the pleasant nonsense mothers and fathers communicate with their baby with – and the unnatural “condescending performance” of it – which confuses, upsets and subtly corrupts babies.

The two behaviours look the same, but there is a vast – yet extremely subtle – difference. Have you ever seen an adult lean over a young child and start blabbing away with INSINCERE BLABBING? The baby’s face often registers bewildered horror. This is the problem.

(Also, by the way, although I begin this piece with “the first thing to do” – it is not the first step in corrupting one’s child though and far from the most important. This begins on an even subtler level, which I also do not fully explain here; on the level of subtle feeling, vibe and atmosphere. I shall publish a piece on this soon).

Anyway, returning to your criticisms. You are, of course, quite right to point out that “brainwashing” (also a bit of a misnomer, but its catchier than the more accurate “selfwashing”) has been going on for a long time. I do make allusions to the classic devices you mention, but this is a short piece and is directed to the modern parent who has many time saving devices for warping the consciousness of their young.

I’m sorry you do not understand my comment about my heart. I fear explanation will not help.

Finally you should know that I am a contributor to this excellent website, and although my views have been solicited by Mr Parrish and company because of amity and shared perceptions, what I write does not represent the philosophy of Eat the State nor vice versa.

All the best,


By F-CAT on December 30th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Hey Darren, I know what you mean in all your points; a reasonable person should take for granted your values are excellent and speculative thinking is a rare and special thing. I did take that for granted.
I criticized the heart-metaphor (which of course is pretty common and easy to understand) because of unrelated temporary crankiness at the time, along with the real overuse and incoherent use of that metaphor, an allergy to clichés, but most of all sincere empathy with a person very unsure of how to raise children in THIS mess you describe, who may react with skepticism to someone else’s “do’s and don’ts” on child-rearing, when so much of human culture has been devastated.
Some seemingly well-formed questions don’t have good answers, and looking for them is snipe-hunting. Like, how do I understand the world without exposing myself to corruption and corrosion? One has a hard enough time taking care of oneself in such a toxic environment, but knowing what to do with kids, for this planet’s sliver minority of ‘modern parent with options and luxury to consider them,’ except for what a pediatrician could say, is extremely difficult and in cases impossible. Maybe the question “how am I guaranteed to raise healthy children in the absence of culture?” is as ridiculous as “how do I raise a goldfish without water?” “How can I send my child to school or raise him in this city and know he will be okay?” is a mild version of “How do I leave my child outdoors overnight at the bus-station downtown and know he will be okay?” Doing the ‘right’ thing could have bad results, allowing the generally ‘wrong’ thing may be really great, because generalities about kids lose their usefuleness as the particulars of a child’s environment have changed so drastically. You cannot write a book on how to care for an unkown seed in toxic soil that will change unpredictably. You can’t say much about it except what was already known, and you can’t easily measure the effect of the caretaker.
So I will clarify that although baby-talk is a good thing, you’re quite right that children ought to be respected as full individuals and persons; this is a radical frontier, in a dark ages for child’s rights. That I think is your totally valid concern, the disrespect and long-term chronic abuse of children that occurs due to their environment, as in the everyday and grotesque assaults like “please stand for the…” or “let’s all bow our heads in a …,” “let’s take a look at the stock markets!,” “coming up next in Sports,” “sources say Michael Jackson’s doctor…” or the psychological havoc caused by “commercial advertising” anywhere, everywhere, casual contact or worse with the punitive aspect of the state, or the cruel and systematic sensory deprivation implicated in a ‘modern childhood.’ It is a wondrous resilience even to survive it.
Most importantly to remark, congratulations on being asked to contribute to, or in general, being in anyway in the same company as the best cartoonist ever, Stephanie McMillan, whose cartoons I recognized from ZNET. – I think that’s a very meaningful compliment that you were asked to write here, a great honor and also responsibility. So, ‘Nuff respect, bredda.

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Perfect article!
Keep posting

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