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Look The Other Way  

This month I address the second research supported parenting technique we will discuss here: ignoring.  It is often better for parents to ignore minor misbehavior from their children, particularly misbehavior that is not dangerous.  Whining or complaining, or perhaps even screaming, would fall under this category. 

Much research suggests that ignoring such behavior but making sure to pay attention to positive behavior, like positive interaction with siblings or asking nicely for something, has a better overall effect on children’s behavior than addressing the negative behavior.  This suggests there is some truth to the idea that negative attention can be reinforcing for children.  Sometimes paying attention to something parents don’t want, even if it is to discipline the behavior, can make the unwanted behavior more likely.

This is also a good place to remember that in order for the relationship to feel good, there needs to be a preponderance of positive to negative interactions, at least 5 to 1.  The more negative behavior parents attend to the more negative interactions they create.  It then becomes more difficult to put in enough positive interaction to make the relationship feel good.  Ignoring negative behavior makes it easier to keep that healthy positive to negative interaction ratio in place.