The Wet Willy Way

Death by Chil­dren is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing only the high­est stan­dards in par­ent­ing tech­niques. We are espe­cially devoted to meth­ods of par­ent­ing that embody joy, love, and laugh­ter, as well as pro­mot­ing the idea to every par­ent that their chil­dren are not a bur­den, but a gift. We also tell fart jokes.

WWW Tech­nique #001: The Wet Willy

This tech­nique is designed to teach the par­ent to stop yelling, to relieve the chil­dren of the ten­sion caused by yelling, and finally, to resolve the over­all ten­sion through laughter.


When some­one yells in anger, they must imme­di­ately allow the per­son they have yelled at to stick their spit-slick fin­gers into their ears for five sec­onds. They can­not refuse. Repeated offenses dou­ble the wet willy time.


Upon yelling:

  1. The yellee (and any­one else) cries WET WILLY!
  2. The yellee must stick their fin­gers into their mouth with a wicked, per­verse, slow drama, mak­ing a lot of squishy noises as they swish their saliva around their fingers.
  3. The yeller takes a seat at the kitchen table, arms crossed, head held high.
  4. All present gather round.
  5. The yellee removes their fin­gers from their mouth and places them in both the yellee’s ears.
  6. All present count loudly to five.
  7. The yellee promptly removes fingers.

Why it works

It relieves ten­sion: Yelling cre­ates ten­sion and stress by engag­ing the fight or flight response. Every­one involved is engaged in this response. The per­son yelling is prob­a­bly fight­ing, the per­son being yelled would prob­a­bly love to fly away, as do the the peo­ple wit­ness­ing the yelling. This ten­sion must be resolved for every­one to get back to enjoy­ing them­selves and being happy. Most tech­niques of reliev­ing ten­sion are aca­d­e­mic or some­what com­pli­cated. But laugh­ter and absur­dity elim­i­nate ten­sion instantly.

It realigns the parent’s author­ity: your author­ity does not come as some kind of birth right. You earn your author­ity over your chil­dren by treat­ing them with respect and, there­fore, gain­ing their trust. By sub­mit­ting to a ridicu­lous action, let­ting your child stick their wet fin­gers into your ears, you are com­mu­ni­cat­ing to them that you know you over­stepped their trust and respect and that you are will­ing to earn it back.

It shows respect: allow­ing them to stick their fin­gers in your ears puts them into a posi­tion of author­ity over you. By respect­ing that author­ity, by sub­mit­ting to this silli­ness, you show them you mean what you say and you respect them enough to keep your word.

It defeats arro­gance with humil­ity: yelling at your chil­dren is the height of arro­gance. You are, in effect, treat­ing them as if they don’t mat­ter, with dis­re­gard, as sub­jects over whom you rule. This point of view is kind of hard to defend when they’ve got their spitty fin­gers in your ears.

It teaches self-worth: because you are show­ing hum­ble respect, you com­mu­ni­cate to them that they are worth this effort, this humil­i­a­tion, this silly moment. You teach them that they do not have to sub­mit to abuse and should never do so.

About Bull Garlington

Christopher Garlington is the humor columnist for Chicago Parent magazine, Seattle Parent Map, and New York Parenting magazine. His stories have appeared in Atlanta Parent, Baton Rouge Parent, Parenting ABC (U.K.); Florida, Orlando, Orlando Weekly, Catholic Digest, Retort, Another Realm, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and other magazines. He is the author of the infamous anti-parenting blog, Death By Children; co-author of The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats.

  • Jen­nifer

    Thank you so much for this. You know you’re in dire straits when you’re googling “how to stop yelling at your kids,” but that is indeed what I’m doing tonight, and I can’t tell you how per­fect this idea is after read­ing all the new-agey crap advice on other sites. I’m going to put this into effect TOMORROW. Thanks!

  • Christo­pher Gar­ling­ton, Esq.


    The most impor­tant thing about the Wet Willy Way is to email all your friends a link to the blog. Seri­ously. It’s like some kind of ju ju. It works. Doooo Iii­iit.