Monday, August 31, 2020

Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction

Sometimes the simplest way to get a bad behavior to stop is to simply ignore it. Children will often seek the "reward" of attention by misbehaving. They also realize that the behavior can help them gain other rewards in the process (such as a toy a sweet or some other desired object or activity.) Ignore it advocates a simple strategy: Ignore, Listen, Re-engage, Repair. 

Before starting, kids are instructed in the behavior. If they are asking for something, the final answer is given, and nothing is up for further debate. If they continue to wine or complain, the parent does not react at all. The child is simply ignored. Any response that the parent breaks the ignoring. Once the tantrum dies down, the parent continues other steps to build back up the relationship with the child.

There are times when ignoring should not be done. If there is danger of bodily harm, the parent should re-engage sooner. However, parents' definition of "bodily harm" can often be excessively broad today. In public, it is often best to remove everyone to a "private" space to have the tantrum so that the child can be "ignored" without unduly stressing the parent. The strategy is also valid for children with psychological challenges such as ADHD and autism. 

The author notes that many parents try the strategy and fail. Often that is because they do not fully ignore, but instead give some bits of attention (such as yelling at a kid to quiet down.) There is also a discussion on time outs. Those can be a tool to help provide separation and quiet down. However, they need to be done for the right amount of time. They should also be a time of "no attention". If a parent has to hold a child are repeatedly get them to go back, it is probably not good.

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