Ignoring your child is a legitimate parenting technique. But it brings forth a lot of disapproval.
As a new mum I quickly learnt that shouting did not work. As toddlers my children would just ignore me and continue to do whatever naughty thing they were doing. Once they started school my daughter would just shrug and say ‘whatever’ and my son would break into floods of tears. I read a lot of parenting books and the strategy that I found the best to use was just to ignore the bad behaviour and praise the child as soon as they complied or did what I wanted them to do. This strategy is not always easy and it does not always work but it works better then shouting. However, other people do not seem to understand it at all, especially where the older generation are concerned.
I remember queuing in a shop and my son had a full blown tantrum because I said he couldn’t have a chocolate bar. I calmly ignored him, gave my full attention to his twin sister and waited for him to stop. We then picked up all the chocolate bars together which he had thrown everywhere. But the two old ladies behind were tutting and shaking their heads at me ignoring my son.
When my twins were four my in laws took us on holiday to Spain. After finishing their meal the twins went for a run around the restaurant. They ignored my request to sit back down and play with their toys. So my mother in law was most put out when I sat down and waited for them to stop running around on their own. She and my husband ended up chasing them around the restaurant. They eventually stopped on their own once the game got boring. We went off to do something fun. I made sure to give them plenty of praise for sitting at the table and took them out to play as soon as they were finished eating. They never ran round the restaurant again.
This weekend we took our children to Legoland. Henry was really tired and by the end of the day he had gone into full blown dramatics. If you tried to walk with him he slowed down and started flaying around and doing lots of heavy breathing. The only way to get him to walk was to walk ahead of him and ignore him. Without the audience he walked fine. So we were making our way up the queue of our last ride of the day. Daddy and Lily had rushed ahead to make sure they got on the ride and I was left trying to get Henry to walk up the stairs. Around the corner came this lady with her son. Seeing them, he ‘fell’ up the stairs and started crying. I was a short distance away ignoring him. The look on this poor woman’s face! She didn’t know whether she should help my sobbing child or berate me for leaving him in such a state. I did feel embarrassed but I comforted my son and managed to get him up the stairs and onto the last ride of the day with the promise of a happy meal. Sometimes you have to resort to bribery!