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What You Ignore Is What You Allow


When it comes to kids, what you ignore is what you allow.

Same thing.  

At least as far as they're concerned.  

Because once you've ignored something, your child understands that she can get away with it.

It's definitely easier to pretend we didn't notice.  The sassy response, being 20 minutes late for curfew, little ones touching things they've repeatedly been told to leave alone or running away, giggling, when they've been told to come.  We can ignore these little things easily enough, they're small, relatively harmless, the world won't end.  

No.  But things will escalate.  Once behaviour has been ignored, your child has learned that it's acceptable.  

They've pushed and won.  Now they want to see how far they can go, how much rope, how much slack, you'll give.

Of course they know you don't approve, but they also now know you're not prepared to do anything about it.  That basically, you won't bother.

This is one of the toughest parts of parenting.  Consistency.  Actually bothering.  Even about the small stuff.  Even when you’re tired, or they’ve worn you down by pushing the envelope over and over and over again!  Following through and calling them out, time, after time, after time.  Until, instead of them wearing you down with persistent rebellion or disobedience, you've worn them down, with consistent follow through.

Because just like a toe over the line, if you give an inch, they'll take a mile.  They'll learn that you can be pushed.  But if the minute that toe stretches across the line you've drawn in the sand, you swat it back, they'll learn, (after they've tried it a dozen or so times), that it's just not worth it.  That you won't give in.  That you mean what you say.  And believe me, I promise you, this is a very valuable lesson to teach them.  Early!  This is the lesson that leads to you being able to trust them with the car, or leave them alone for a weekend, while you and your husband go away together.  Knowing that they know, that if they break the rules while you're gone, there will be consequences, and that it's just not worth it.  It also leads to their respect.

Now, here, like other times, I will interject and say, that the rules you defend need to be fair.  That they need to be about the safety of your child, the respect of your home or you as a parent, they are not about you lording your authority over them just because you can.  Those kinds of rules will only lead to frustration, rebellion and certainly the loss of, not only your child's respect, but also their affection.  Whereas if your child understands the reasons for your rules they can't really argue about you enforcing them.  Little ones need to be taught to simply obey what Mommy or Daddy says, older children and teenagers need reasons.

It's all too easy to turn a blind eye, especially when you’re tired - which I get, is most of the time.  But believe me, it will turn about and bite you in the butt later.  The exhaustion you endure now, will pay off in the future.  Be fair, be firm, and be consistent.  And if they continue to push there needs to be consequences.  Not idle threatens, not ranting and raving.  Consequences equal to their offence.

Don't pretend you didn't notice.  Don't pretend it's a game when they don't listen.  Don't beg or coddle or promise things if they will just do what you're asking.  They know you know what they did.  And they're waiting to see what you're going to do about it.


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