Better Parenting Through Behavioral Design & Gamification

Sam Liberty
3 min readJan 2, 2024


Parenting is hard. But in the end, it boils down to helping your children develop good behaviors. And, if you can find ways to make your own lives easier in the process, all the better.

That’s why I am launching a new series of articles on how you can use behavioral design and gamification to make your job as a caregiver so much easier while also helping your kids defeat their worst enemy: their own hangups.

I’ll add more to this series periodically, and whenever I do I will add it to this master post.

Have you ever used gamification or behavioral design with your own kids? If so, get in touch!

1. I Used Behavioral Science To Redesign Breakfast For My Kid (and get my mornings back once and for all)

In this article, I explain many basic behavioral economics concepts and how I used them to solve a major morning logjam: my young son’s indecisiveness at breakfast time!

It may sound like a small problem, but it was becoming a serious issue that made mornings a living heck.

Once I realized the problem was choice overload, the solution became obvious.

2. How I Used Behavioral Design To Get My Kid Back On His Bike

What do you do when your child is overwhelmed with fear of a simple thing? This is the issue I was facing when the training wheels came off my 6-year-old’s bicycle. What should have been fun and empowering was brutal and harrowing.

Worse, I never learned to ride a bike myself! So how was I supposed to help him overcome a problem I never solved for myself? Behavioral design to the rescue!

This article includes an overview of B.J. Fogg’s “Tiny Habits,” one of the best works I’ve come across on behavioral design.

3. Get your kid out the door in seconds with this simple game backed by science

When you need to get a stubborn kid off the couch and out into the world, where do you turn? Gamification of course! In this article I explain a simple game I designed to get my kids out of the house and moving without the fuss or arguments: The Hat Of Fun. I explain how it works, and why it’s so effective.

4. Fun. Fast. Fair. How To Design Gamification For Kids

Gotta go fast! In this article I lay out my Three Fs framework for designing gamification for kids. In many ways, kids are like anyone else and are motivated by the same things we all are. But kids’ unique psychology offer some very specific design constraints.

To motivate, excite, and engage kids, your game needs to be fun, fast, and fair!

5. Use Behavioral Science To Take The Pain Out Of Your Kids’ Chores (And Yours, Too)

Chores are tough. Kids gotta do ’em, but doing them sucks. So how do you get your kids into gear? Yelling? Bribes? Threats?

None of the above. Using the best BeSci techniques available, you can make chores painless now and forever.

Sam Liberty is a father of two, and gamification expert and serious game consultant. He teaches game design at Northeastern University and was lead game designer at Sidekick health.



Sam Liberty

Lead Game Designer at Sidekick Health. Co-Founder of Extra Ludic; Designing and teaching serious games for social change and real-world impact