No one likes to be ignored, and it can be absolutely infuriating if that other person is your own child. When your toddler ignores you, frustration mounts and many parents simply don’t know what to do. They can’t understand why their previously sweet little angel is now ignoring their every request, and many turn to yelling and punishment when something else might work better.
In all likelihood, your toddler ignores you because he is so enthralled by the world around him that he has trouble returning his attention to the requests of his parents. He’s engrossed in a cartoon or fascinated by the motion of a train set, so your voice is simply background noise that he filters out naturally. He isn’t trying to be disobedient or cruel; he simply suffers from information overload.
When your toddler annoys you, there are a few things you can do to re-capture his attention:
Touch Your Child
Sometimes, a voice simply isn’t enough to draw your toddler’s attention away from whatever he’s focused on. If this is the case, add touch to the equation to let him know you’re there and want him to focus on you instead. Gently putting your hand on his arm or rubbing his back while you talk to him can work wonders. If that doesn’t work, be more forceful by actually picking him up and turning to face you.
Rephrase Your Request
A firm request is much more effective than a weak one when your toddler ignores you. For example, instead of saying, “Could you please go to bed?”, say, “Put down your toys, it’s time to go to bed.” This tells your toddler that you’re serious about whatever you want him to do, and will negate the possibility that he sees it as an either-or deal. There is no time like the present to start teaching the fact that Mom and Dad mean business.
Say What You Mean
Your toddler might ignore you because you consistently give him orders or requests that contradict what you actually do. For instance, if you tell him that he has to go to bed in five minutes, don’t spend fifteen minutes talking with your spouse before taking him to bed. He must know that you intend to follow through with what you say if you’re going to stop your toddler from ignoring you.
When your toddler decides to ignore you, it’s time to start giving consequences for poor behavior. Your toddler must learn that he has to try and pay attention to his parents, or he has to suffer the consequences. Time-outs are a great way to drive this point home, and even two minutes in a specific chair will help to illustrate your point.
Have Some Laughs
If ignoring you isn’t a serious problem that your toddler has, you can avoid future recurrences by having some laughs about the situation. For example, let’s say that your toddler is watching Scooby Doo on television, and he ignores you when you ask him to come in for lunch. Rather than reacting with anger, ask him what he’s got in his ears and start inspecting them for dirt and slugs. This will instigate a few giggles and remind him that it’s important to listen.
Your toddler probably isn’t ignoring you to start a fight; rather, he’s simply enthralled with the world around him and has trouble focusing on too much at once.