×
Book Appointment Online with select physicians.
Request Appointment Online to schedule with one of our coordinators.
1.888.IUHEALTH for
Same-Day Primary Care Appointments.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Why Parents Shouldn’t Ignore Bad Kid Behavior: 3 Common Traps and How to Cope

Blog Why Parents Shouldn’t Ignore Bad Kid Behavior: 3 Common Traps and How to Cope

Have you fallen into one of these parenting traps? Get out of it by following this advice from Ann M. Lagges, Ph.D., H.S.P.P., a pediatric psychologist at Indiana University Health.


Have you fallen into one of these parenting traps? Get out of it by following this advice from Ann M. Lagges, Ph.D., H.S.P.P., a pediatric psychologist at Indiana University Health.

PARENTING PITFALL #1: Giving in to whining.

Parents are most likely to do this when they’re tired, according to Lagges. “But if you do that, you’re reinforcing the whining,” she says. “Anything a child does that gets her what she wants she’s going to keep doing.” Even giving in sometimes is problematic because it “establishes an intermittent reinforcement schedule,” Lagges explains. “It’s like playing the lottery: Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t, but as long as it worked once there’s always a chance it will work again.”

The escape route. Lagges recommends active ignoring: Do not respond in any way. “Whining doesn’t warrant punishment,” she says. “Nobody’s getting hurt — it’s just obnoxious.” And not responding to a whining child isn’t being mean: “If your kid asks once, and you say no, you’ve answered the question,” she explains. “As long as the child isn’t doing anything dangerous you aren’t going to scar her by ignoring her.” But as soon as she stops whining and begins to act appropriately, pay attention to her. You’re then sending the signal whining doesn’t get attention, but doing things like playing nicely or talking in a normal voice will,” Lagges says.

PARENTING PITFALL #2: Regarding bad behavior as “just as phase.”

Allowing a child to get away with inappropriate behavior won’t do that child any favors, says Lagges. “Other people may tolerate a toddler who shoves in front of the other kids at the zoo, but not an eight-year-old who does it,” she points out. Taking a kids-will-be-kids attitude also can lead to safety issues. “If you don’t teach them as early as possible that ‘you do have to listen, you do have to follow safety rules,’ there could be tragic results.”

The escape route. “Begin teaching appropriate behavior at an early age,” says Lagges. “Even if other people say, “Oh, I don’t mind if he pushes ahead,’ it’s important to help him practice the correct behavior. Take him by the hand, lead him back to your place in line, explain, ‘We wait our turn.’ Good behavior becomes cemented at a young age.”

PARENTING PITFALL #3: Believing a child misbehaves “on purpose.”

“Parents sometimes attribute adult motives to kid behavior, assuming a child has adequate understanding of someone else’s feelings,” says Lagges. For instance, a 3-year-old who melts down in a store after hours of shopping is simply tired. “She isn’t lying on the floor screaming to sabotage her mom’s shopping,” Lagges says. “And the tot who colors on the walls isn’t trying to get back at his parents for something — he simply sees a big canvas to color on. Little kids don’t have the capacity to be vindictive.”

The escape route. First, always keep in mind where a child is developmentally. “Little kids don’t have the capacity to plot against Mom or Dad,” says Lagges. “They’re just trying to figure out how they can control their world, what the limits are.” So if a toddler is having a tantrum because she’s too wiped out to do anything else, it’s time to take her home — and perhaps plan trips to the mall around her naptime. And as with anything you want your child to learn to do, or not do, you take the opportunity to teach them the right thing to do. For instance, explain to your little Picasso that the wall is not for drawing on and give him paper.

Viewing all posts in …