I can’t stand it when kids ignore me.

Am I alone here? Anyone out there just love talking to the wall? Get a thrill when their kids ignore them?

Two common explanations for why kids ignore their parents (and other adults) are true, but they’re incomplete.

  1. Not responding gives children a sense of power and control. (Just like you can’t make kids eat, you also can’t make them talk.)
  2. Your kids are waiting for you to mean it, i.e. to YELL.  Please put your coat on.  Nothing. Please put your coat on. Nothing. Please put your coat on. Nothing. PUT YOUR COAT ON NOW!!!!  Coat goes on.

The real reason kids ignore their parents is that parents ignore their kids.

Setting: Father is talking to a friend. Daughter standing nearby.

  • Daddy.
  • Nothing.
  • Daddy.
  • Nothing.
  • Daddy.
  • Nothing.
  • DADDY!!!
  • What honey?

Setting: Mother and son walking. Son is a few steps behind.

  • Mommy, this is too heavy.
  • Nothing.
  • Mommy, this is too heavy.
  • Nothing.
  • Mommy, this is too heavy.
  • Nothing.
  • Child drops bundles, sits down to cry.
  • Want me to carry if for you?

It can be painful to admit that we ignore our kids…not all the time, of course. Just enough, though, to teach them this technique.

If your child hasn’t started ignoring you, make sure you never—NEVER—ignore your child.

  • I’ll be with you in a minute.
  • You can see I’m talking, so you’ll have to wait.
  • Hold on a second, I’m just going to put this bag away and then I’ll be with you.
  • Raise a just-a-minute-finger.

If your child is already ignoring you:

  1. Apologize for ignoring your child.
  2. Recognize how awful it feels to be ignored.
  3. Give your children alternatives to ignoring you.

Alternatives to ignoring.

  • You don’t have to tell me how school went today but you can’t ignore me. Just say, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
  • If you don’t want to put your shoes on when I ask you to, then you need to tell me. You can say, “I need help.” or “I want to keep playing.” or even, “I hate you.”

If your child asks for 5 extra minutes before putting on her jacket, do you have to give it to her? No, but it’s nice if you can. And if you don’t, at least you’re both still talking!

What’s ending the ignoring game got to do with teaching kids to eat right?

They both involve the same framework: Talking to kids, seeing the world through their eyes, and using a teaching approach.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~