You’ve had a long day. Your nerves are raw. And your child is insisting on pulling out all of the behaviors that grate on you the most. You may be tempted to snap or scold, but responding in a negative manner may only encourage them further. Try ignoring the behavior instead, to put a quick end to the following five toddler and preschooler moments.
Whining. Maybe it’s the toy she wants from the store. Maybe it’s another 20 minutes of TV time. In either case, the sound of your child raising his voice, drawing out his words, and letting out that familiar whining sound can be enough to make you grit your teeth. But ignore his whines, and eventually, he’ll learn that when you said no the first time, you meant it.
Tantrums. A child who is having a tantrum has become overwhelmed by their emotions. Reasoning with them, bargaining, explaining why everything will be OK? These tools are all powerless against the tantrum. The best thing to do is to walk away, or, if you are in public, turn away and do not address the behavior. The tantrum will come to an end eventually and your child will begin to learn that having a tantrum is not a way to earn attention.
Repeating a word or phrase they shouldn’t be using. Of course, parents try not to use certain words in front of their children. But occasionally, every parent lets one or two “forbidden” words slip out, and when your child repeats that word, it can be tempting to explain to them that they should not repeat it. But that just draws more attention to the word or phrase. Ignoring it is more likely to result in your child forgetting about the word, since its use wasn’t rewarded.
The attention-grabbing squeal. Yes, that squeal. The one your child uses to bring any conversation to a standstill. The one that ensures that every eye in the room immediately turns to her. The best thing you can do to reduce the frequency of this squeal is to ignore it. As hard as it is not to whip your head in the direction of the squeal, just go about your business as if you never heard that ear-piercing sound, and the squeal will begin to lose its power!
Rude noises and behavior. When your kids begin to learn about potty humor, or imitate rude noises they’ve picked up from their friends, they are looking for a reaction. When they don’t get that reaction, they’ll grow bored of those noises, and will stop, or at least reproduce them less frequently.
Obviously, if your child has a genuine need or is in pain, you should be quick to give him your attention! But if your child’s behavior is unnecessary and unwanted, ignoring is the way to go.