Everyone always says, ‘It’s no big deal just ignore it.’ That strategy is alright some of the time but not all of the time. Ignoring mild misbehavior is a legitimate parenting strategy. It shows your little one that his/her antics won’t get your attention. This means he/she will be less likely to repeat it in the future.

However, not all behavior should be ignored. If it is, it will lead to worse problems down the road. Keep a look out for these small misbehaviors and take action ASAP. Here are 6 little behavior problems you can’t ignore:

  1. Interrupting when you are talking. Your child may be really excited and want to tell you an important part about their day. When you allow your child to butt into your conversation, you give your child the message that it’s alright. This doesn’t teach your child to be considerate of others. This also doesn’t teach your child to occupy their time on their own. The next time this happens let you child know you will be busy. Suggest a few toys or games they can play with. If they continue to interrupt you, steer them back in the right direction.
  2. Exaggerating the truth. At first the exaggerations are little. Maybe, your child told you they finished all of their vegetables. When the truth is they hardly touched one. This little white lie isn’t exactly harmful, but they are not facts. You may think this is no big deal, but eventually the lying can get worse. Remember, when a child is between the ages of 2-4, they don’t know exactly what the truth is. But, after that they will begin to understand. When they tell the truth give them a lot of praise. Encourage your child to be honest, even if it means they could get into trouble. 
  3. Pretending not to hear you. We’re all familiar with this one. You may have done this as a kid yourself. It still doesn’t make it alright. You shouldn’t have to repeat yourself three or four times  to have your child pick of their room or get in the car. Remember, you are training your child. If this starts young, it will only get worse down the road. Tuning you out is a power play on the child’s part. The next time you ask your child to do something, walk over to where they are and look at them. Make sure they respond, with OKAY Mommy. If they are watching T.V., it’s alright to turn it off. This is also a time where you can start to take away privileges. For example, instead of one hour of T.V., they will only be able to watch a half hour.
  4. Playing too rough. You know you have to step in when your son punches his younger brother. But, you also don’t want to ignore the more subtle aggressive acts. Like, shoving his younger brother or ignoring him. You need to get a grip on this early, or it will get out of control by age 8. It also sends a message that hurting people is alright. Confront aggressive behavior immediately. Pull your son aside and let him know this is not alright. He could really hurt someone. If the behavior continues don’t allow him to play with his younger brother until he stops.
  5. Helping him/herself to a treat. I know it is convenient when your child can get him/herself a snack and turn on the T.V., without your help. It may even be cute when your 2 year old grabs a cookie off the counter without asking. But, just wait until they are 8 and at a friends house, and they grab a treat without asking. It’s important to establish some house rules. Can your child have sweets without asking? Or, do you need to ask to turn on the T.V.? Make sure your child knows what the rules are, this will help them follow the rules. 
  6. Having a little attitude. You may think attitude starts as a preteen, but actually it starts much earlier. Preschoolers will mimic their parents behavior to see what type of a reaction they get. Parents may ignore it, because they think it is a phase. If you ignore the attitude, it will get much worse down the road. You will have a third grader with an attitude problem, that you may feel like you can’t control. You need to make your child aware of their behavior and that it is not alright. Let your child know that you know they are rolling their eyes. The idea here is to let your child feel bad about their behavior. Let your child know you will listen to them, when they are ready to talk nicely to you.
If you have already done this, then great. If not, that’s alright it’s never too late to start. Remember, all parents go through highs and lows. If you stick with it, down the road it will pay off.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She is dedicated to helping children and families. For more information, please visit www.LessonsforLove.com. 

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