Ignore: to refuse to take notice of or acknowledge.
Tolerate: to allow the existence, occurrence or practice of without interference.
As I sat watching a mother struggle with her child, I was saddened by the fact that she lost the battle with a two year old. Apparently none of her mom’s group friends wanted to point out to her that she was the adult in the situation. If you can’t best a two year old in a battle of wills, the teen years will be hell, expensive or both.
I realized that her language was part of the problem. After the beloved Brittany got what she wanted, the mom said that she decided to ‘ignore Brittany’s behavior’. She had read on some parenting website that if parents just ignored bad behavior, the behavior would change.
After I picked my jaw up off the ground, failing miserably to hide my eavesdropping, I realized that she (hopefully) has misunderstood the message or the language.
What this clueless mom was doing was tolerating her darling’s bad behavior. When you tolerate something, it’s does a couple things. 1) reinforces the bad behavior because the child understands that it’s okay and 2) encourages a recurrence with ever increasing frequency.
Yes, you guessed it. Before I could get up and leave, little Brittany was crying and throwing herself on the ground for some other reason. And mom, she was tolerating it by continuing her conversation with the other moms before acknowledging and giving Brittany the attention she demanded.
After training Brittany to increase the volume and the intensity of her demands which were seemingly filled with enough persistence, it will be difficult but not impossible for the mom (and dad) to help Brittany change her behavior.
First, stop ignoring and tolerating bad behavior. There must be consequences. Consequences must be swift. For example: the next time Brittany is at the park, when she throws a fit, simply pick her up, put her in the car and leave. Give her neither the thing she wants nor reinforcing behavior. Once home, perhaps a short time out will help.
At first, Brittany will rebel. It will get louder for the short term. In the long run, Brittany will learn to not throw a fit and with enough consistency and a good example of manners, she can learn to be a well behaved child that everyone enjoys having around.