Friday, July 22, 2011

Ignore Anyone Who Tells You This Is a Good Parenting Technique

Just two days after my post about children being like bladders (and why it doesn't make sense to ignore either one), I came across this article, about something called nonreactive parenting. It might have been good if the rest of the article supported this statement:
This approach requires that a parent delay a response to a negative situation with a child until it is clearly understood what the true need of the child is; the reaction is in a manner that strictly addresses the need.
This sounds pretty good. Figure out what the underlying need is before reacting. Yes.

However, the author inexplicably goes on to say that she has "figured out" that ignoring her kids is a great way to stop any behavior she doesn't like. This, to me, is not even close to figuring and addressing the need. I don't think a child "needs" to be ignored in most cases. But I read on.

She tells the story of how she came to the conclusion that ignoring her children is a good idea:
The other day, I saw another mother being excessively challenged by her kids (which is a very nice way of putting it), and I was in awe of what I saw. She said nothing to them while they fought for her attention; she went on with her grocery shopping as if they weren’t even there.
Why is it admirable for a mother to prove that she can deliberately ignore her child's needs? I don't like being ignored, and I think many people would agree with me. If you are trying to get attention, you don't want to be ignored. If I were with a loved one who was completely and purposefully ignoring my attempts to get my needs met, pretending I wasn't even there, I would be angry and hurt. The story continues...
She was calm, cool and collected, and before long her kids were quiet and back to being human.
Back to being human?? What is she saying? That when people are upset, they cease to be human? Or is it only when they are upset about somethings we don't understand or accept? Or is it that children are only considered human when they are quiet and convenient and compliant? Either way, I am saddened by this thought.

The children in this story are only less than human by treatment. Humans deserve comfort when they are upset especially from their own parents, and these children (humans) did not get that.

Then she tells a story of her own use of this nonreactive parenting. Her daughter was rude to her, and instead of getting angry, she responded calmly and walked away, ignoring her daughter's further "rantings," and essentially shut down the conversation. Her daughter went to her room, "infuriated," and the mother seems to declare it a win because her daughter gave up.

I'm all for staying calm, for not reacting negatively in an already tense situation. I don't yell at my kids, I don't hit them, I don't punish them. To me, any of these would be like fighting fire with fire, which is not helpful at all.

Image from
You know what else doesn't help to put out a fire? Walking away from it while it's still raging. Even if you didn't see the spark that started the fire, or didn't understand why it was burning so intensely, ignoring it, pretending it didn't exist, would not be effective.

If your child is upset, picture there being a fire inside her. You can walk away from the flames, sure. You may even think the fire has gone out because you can't see it from where you are standing. And maybe your child will learn to hide the flames from you better next time.

But beware, the fire could still be raging inside your child, and at some point you will both get burned.