A Navy SEAL’s Guide To Dominating Hide-And-Seek

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Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL students wade ashore on San Clemente Island during an over-the-beach exercise.

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL students wade ashore on San Clemente Island during an over-the-beach exercise.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Fatherly, a digital lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood.

Want your kid to start dominating at competitive sports at a frighteningly precocious age? Of course you do. That's why we asked Navy SEAL Nick Hays, who has a Bronze Star from 10 years of service, for some stealth and concealment tips for hide-and-seek. Teach the below to your offspring, and pretty soon they'll disappear so effectively you won't be able to find them in your own damn house.

First, Junior should level the playing field before the competition even steps on it. Here are three ways to start winning before play even starts.

  • Camouflage. Assuming your house is not all white and filled with snow, have your kid select a mix of colors in a pattern. This makes whoever is looking less likely to pick up the shape of their shape by breaking up their silhouette. Long sleeve, plaid pajamas are a good go-to, although if you have time to make a suit out of the sofa upholstery, your kid can just sit down and win every game forever.
  • Recon. Instruct your budding spy to seek hiding spots that provide concealment from multiple angles — sofas, long curtains, and beds can all work. Closets are even better. Better still, if the house has undergone any recent renovations or reorganizations, teach them to identify a hiding site no one's noticed yet, like the box that the new dishwasher came in.
  • Soften the target. Once they know where they're going, have them pre-stage the area with a blanket that no one will know wasn't there earlier in the day. Remember, only really bad games of hide-and-seek go one round. Multiple blankets in multiple locations are a must!. No, seriously.

Once the countdown begins, it's all about misdirection to confuse the competition.

  • Use sound to great advantage. When someone closes their eyes to start counting, their sense of hearing naturally elevates. Your ever-more-terrifyingly evasive tot should confuse them by loudly heading in one direction and then silently doubling back before they finish the countdown.
  • Stay low. The lower you are to the ground, the less likely you'll be to cast a shadow that gives you away — so now you've got a more compelling reason than "you'll hurt yourself" to convince your kid not to climb onto the bookshelf.
  • Disciplined breathing. Nothing attracts the eye like movement, but, if your kid holds their breath for the whole game, they're going to pass out and then no one will find them (in a bad way). Taking long, slow, deep breaths is the way to go here.
  • Use decoys. After the first round, the competition will be on to the blanket trick, so train the little ninja to use it against them by taking a minute to stage some pillows under the old blanket before obscuring themselves in an entirely different place with blanket number two.
  • Stay on the move. Seekers are unlikely to check the same room twice, so for the third round, hiders should avoid actually hiding until they can get to a room that's already been checked. The best way to do this is with a room that has two entrances. Teach James Bond Jr. to take a position outside one door, and when he/she hears them coming through the other one, circle back and go through the door they came through as they leave the room. Now Junior can relax while the seekers check the rest of the house in frustration. Your kid totally rules.

This article, “A Navy SEAL’s Tips On How To Dominate Hide-And-Seek,” originally appeared on Fatherly.

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