How to Make Children Neurotic

Step 1: Tell your children that you are taking them to a walled city so that you can walk the walls with them. Spend all day building this up as a great adventure. 

Step 2: When you enter the city, point out the high walls that surround you. Make repeated excited exclamations to build the anticipation.

Step 3: As you begin to ascend the walls, hold your child's hand in a death grip and say, "My god. This is higher than I remember." For added angst, repeatedly (and with a hint of desperation) tell the children to be careful.

Step 4: As the ascent continues without any discernible end in sight, begin to express your doubts about the endeavor out loud. Say things like, "I don't know about this" or "It's quite narrow and it's so crowded". 

Step 5: Repeatedly point out that there are no railings and tell the children that if they do not stay against the wall, they could fall off of the wall and plummet to their deaths.

Step 6: Once at the top, if the children  appear to be having fun, remind them that this is serious. Tell them to stop dancing/laughing/dashing about. Hold onto them by their hoodies if necessary.

Step 7: Tell them to sit by an opening in the wall for a picture. When they try to wiggle themselves into the window, shriek and run towards them. Point through the window and scream, "Do you know what's on the other side?! Death - that's what!" This will lighten the mood.

Step 8: When a child asks to go up another set of stairs to a scenic look-out, scream "no!" Then tell them that there is nothing to see from that height...just more sky and death.

Step 9: As you begin to walk the walls, watch the children like hawks. If they take their eyes of their feet for a moment to enjoy the view, redirect their attention immediately back to the uneven path before them.

Step 10: Intermittently scream, "Stay against the wall!" For added effect, you can add the occasional "oh god".

Step 11: When the children tell you that you are scaring them, ask (in your sweetest voice) why they are scared. Then assure them that there is no reason to be scared. When they look at you funny for talking in a sugary voice that they have never heard you use, remind them to look at the path.

Step 12: Through clenched teeth, begin to make proclamations about how much fun you are all having. Refrain from shrieking/screaming/exclaming/grabbing for a few minutes to restore a sense of calm.

Step 13: When people need to pass, yell "Up against the wall!" like you are stuck in an episode of Law and Order.

Step 14: When you finally begin your descent, speak cheerfully about the "adventure" and ask them if they had fun.

Step 15: When they suggest that they would like to leave you in the city next time and walk the walls with their other parent, wave away their concerns and assure them that you are making family memories.

Follow these simple steps and your children too can be terrified of family vacations. Just remember - everyone needs something to talk about when they go to therapy. You are giving your children a gift.