Children can be really annoying. As parents we have to deal with crazy shouting, arguing, children repeatedly doing stuff they shouldn’t be and it’s all enough to drive us crazy! Being patient is tough and we are bound to get frustrated and look to discipline our children when this happens. Actually, ignoring your child when they sit on the sofa whilst covered in mud or when they make the ‘oop’ noise for the thousandth time may be more effective.
I’m a primary school teacher and I work with young children. On a daily basis I deal with minor childhood incidents and children learn to get on with each other and work together. However, I have noticed that children don’t seem to be able to wait like they used to. Certain children demand my full attention, are very attention seeking most of the time or can be just a bit annoying! In a class full of children, this makes my job much harder! This makes me wonder, why is it that some young children think that the world revolves around them and why is it that some children demand constant attention more than most? This inspired me to write a post on why ignoring your children sometimes is actually what you all need!
1. They need to be bored to be creative.
I really believe that, on occasion children need to bored. How else will they sit and ponder how the world works or be creative with their time? Don’t you remember being outside and just finding ants or getting out the Lego and just building what you fancy? If we always give them something to do, entertain them or if they play their tablet whenever they want to, they never feel what it’s like to be bored. Ignoring your children for short amounts of time will allow them to have to find something to do and, believe me, they will but it takes practise! Show them that they can get out whatever toys they like so that when they are unsure what to do, they know where to go.
2. They need to know that they are not the centre of the universe.
Many modern children believe they are the centre of the universe and I just don’t understand it. So many children interrupt when I’m trying to speak to their parent and their parent will stop and listen to their child’s demands. Children need to learn to wait. As their teacher, I will often tell them to wait as I’m speaking to their parent and they look at me as if I’m mad! Learning patience is a skill that we want our children to develop as they will not always get what they want as adults. Patience and turn taking is much harder for children to learn at school if they are always used to getting 100% of our time whenever they demand it at home.
3. They need to realise that their parents are people too and sometimes their needs come first.
This is so important. Children need to understand for an early age that their parents are human beings with feelings. This helps to develop empathy. If they hit you, stop them! It’s not kind to hit so if you allow them to hit you when they are angry or having a tantrum aged 4, they will think that’s ok. Being hit by a 10 year old is not funny and being hit by a 13 year old hurts. Ignore minor tantrums if at all possible after the age of 4 as your child is just tired, hungry or trying to get your attention! However, if your child is always using negative attention seeking behaviour address it by giving lots of positive attention. In this case, you should not ignore the behaviour that you want to see. For example, if your child always refuses to tidy away any toys when you ask them, ignore this but if they do put the smallest toy away, go overboard with your praise. They will soon want to please you by putting away their toys.
4. They need to be able to play without an adult supervising them.
Like any skill that children learn, playing alone takes practise. In order to learn this skill, your child may need initial help so you need to play with them. As a teacher, I see more and more children who need support to play with toys appropriately. Get down on the floor and play trains, dress up and have a tea party or do that puzzle for the tenth time as this is how your child will learn to play. Once they can do this then you can expect them to play on their own or with their siblings/friends for some of the time.
5. They learn how to solve their own problems.
I am not against children using iPads or computers. In fact, computer literacy is important but what I am against is the use of tablets as a baby sitter. Of course, tablets can be useful when children need to be still like on a long journey but in these circumstances I would still limit their use. There are so many other things children could be doing! Ignoring your child for small amounts of time will enable them to create their own games, find their own fun or seek out things to do that you couldn’t even imagine.
As always I would love to hear your views!