Can You Ignore Your Child’s Bad Behavior?

This post is twenty-first in a series of videos available in our BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel, which provides short tidbits from our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on contemporary issues.

Is it okay to ignore your child’s bad behaviors? According to parenting expert Denise Barney, yes, as long as you do it with a purpose. In a 2017, presentation to School of Family Life alumni about parenting, she listed tantrums and tattling as two behaviors that can be ignored. Ignoring them with the purpose of redirecting children to more positive behaviors can be a useful way of eliminating them.

If a child tattles, said Barney, a parent can simply acknowledge the child’s feelings (“I’m sure that made you sad”) and gently push them in the opposite direction from where they are going.  As tantrums are fueled by the attention a parent gives to them, they can simply be ignored. Barney said: “As you learn this skill and your child learns that you’re going to use this skill, this tantrum is going to be short lived and will be gone…It’s the same way with any other behavior.”

Denise is an expert in the Power of Positive Parenting, a parenting manual written by Dr. Glen Latham, having taught classes on it for 15 years. She is also the mother of six children ages 30 to 17.  The full lecture can be viewed here.

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