When and Why You Should Ignore Your Child

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There is a lot about this article on when you should ignore your child that I agree with. Some, maybe less so. Not all the “attention seeking” behavior listed is bad. Not all of it is ignorable for a reasonable human being. Time and place matters a lot. A lot of these kinds of articles seem to view children as some object with a perfect way to be taken care of. Many don’t seem to realize that a lot of us just like our children and enjoy giving them our attention.

There is one very specific behavior called out as bad in this article that I heavily disagree with. That behavior is negotiating. I want my child to be able to negotiate. If she has an issue and wants to try to reason her way out of it with me then I’m going to listen. It may not work, nine times out of ten I’m going to make her eat all the carrots regardless of how she tries to swindle her way out of it. If she gives me a particularly clever or convincing argument though, I may allow it. I want my daughter to have the ability to talk her way out of things she doesn’t like. However, there’s a line to be crossed when negotiating becomes whining, and it’s important to know where that is.

The other aspect of this that I think matters a lot is the time and place at which the behaviour is occurring. It’s one thing to ignore obnoxious noises and behaviours when you are at home with your child. It is an entirely different thing to be sitting in a restaurant or a movie theatre and decide you’re just going to let your child shriek so you don’t “reinforce that behaviour”. In those cases, you just have to make sure that the attention they do get isn’t what they want. I’m not saying you need to be that parent that hauls their child off for a spanking. Things like going out to the car and sitting them down with nothing to do and then ignoring them until they’ve quit can be fine (Don’t just leave them in a car by themselves, that’s not cool).

Kids are smart. Never underestimate the value of just talking to them. Setting rules clearly before going out can go a long way. Maybe they should just know the rules, but children are flighty and whimsical creatures. Reinforcing the behaviors you expect before taking them out can go a long way. Do your best to make sure ignoring bad behavior doesn’t just turn into ignoring all behavior. Children do need attention. Going a little bit out of your way to give them some every now and then can go a lot further to curbing the attention seeking behaviors than almost anything you try with them once they happen.

Good luck out there.





About the Author

AJ is a single dad to a fantastic little girl. He spent five years in the United States Coast Guard. He has a fascination for people watching and political discourse. He spends what time he isn’t wrapped up with parenting or work curling up with a good book or getting a round or two of gaming in when he can.