15 Child Behaviors That Should Never Be Ignored


Being pregnant and giving birth is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Having a child, however, comes with another big worry, 'Will I be a good parent?'

Each kid is unique and sometimes parents, friends or books can’t cover all the special requirements that our little ones might have. We all know about overprotecting parents or people who neglect their children, and we all hope to find the right balance as parents.

There’s an interesting approach called systematic ignoring. Love and attention can be really motivating, and researchers show that even negative attention, such as shouting, can be rewarding for a child. Therefore, according to people who support the systematic ignoring technique, parents should ignore their children when the little ones engage in difficult or inappropriate behaviors.

By not receiving the best prize, your attention, your kid will learn how to behave in social situations. Maybe it’s painful to leave a baby cry, but when there’s no reason behind that, maybe some lack of attention can make your little prince or princess calm down.

However, there are some child behaviors that should never be ignored. Let’s have a look at 15 of them!

15 Attention Seeking

Having a child is a huge responsibility: from providing for them to teaching them how to be individuals, parenting is a challenge. There’s one thing in common. Kids want your love. Sometimes they want it so much that this behavior can transform into attention seeking behavior.

Basically, all kind of aggression, lying, pulling hair, running away, teasing, shouting, tantrums, throwing things and interrupting is a form of attention seeking behavior.

Sometimes kids’ problems are the center of the family life and he or she thinks about themselves as the king or the queen of the house. However, it’s one thing to make sure your kid is loved and appreciated and another, to let your child become narcissistic.

Attention seeking behavior and hysteria can be exhausting, so teach your little one respect and fairness.

As stated above, draw boundaries and be a parent, not only a friend. Leave your child deal with problems by themselves and ignore their dramas from time to time.

There are behaviors you should never ignore but first of all, focus on your own parenting style.

14 Interrupting Others

The first word from your little one might be as exciting as that pregnancy test that confirmed your pregnancy. Communication is important and teaching how your kid should interact and express emotions is a challenging moment in your baby’s life-education.

Kids are always curious about the world and can’t wait to tell you about that worm they saw. However, teach them that there are boundaries in our society one shouldn’t cross. Show your child that you can’t give him or her attention all the time. As the psychologist Jerry Wyckoff says, teaching your child how to interact can help them tolerate frustration later on in life.

Sometimes your child might want not only to talk but to hug or touch you. That’s great, and I’m sure you want to kiss your cheeky sweetness all over that little face. But if you’re busy, tell them to wait till you’re finished or ask them to help you with your choruses.

Teaching a child not to interrupt is crucial and shows them the importance of being patient, polite and respectful.

13 Becoming Distant

Developing a healthy relationship with your baby is crucial for their emotional and cognitive development later on in life, and remember that most of the bonds are formed in the first year of life. Children should be able to recognize and express emotions and they should know how to show empathy and understanding when they’re older.

Therefore, never ignore behaviors that might be an indicator for an autism spectrum disorder. Lack of smiles, interaction of sounds (by 9 months), pointing (by 12 months), no words (by 16 months), and loss of speech might be signs of autism.

Autism is another term that society and doctors exploit. Autism varies between people and some autistic people have a completely normal life. It’s true that some autistic children have difficulties in communication and might show repetitive behavior, but it’s also true that autistic kids love their parents. Research shows that children with autism are very attached to their parents… just in an unusual way.

12 Not Able To Keep Still

Let’s admit it, keeping still is challenging even for adults. Telling a child not to explore the world around them, which often includes digging in your plants or drawing on your favorite books, can be a torture. This problem can escalate in school where a child should be positioned behind a desk for hours.

Many times teachers complain about children that can’t focus or that interrupt the lesson. While we have to make sure our kid is polite and understands the concept of education, we shouldn’t ignore their lack of concentration.

Why? Because being too spontaneous or active might be a sign of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or attention deficit disorder (ADD). Signs of ADHD, psychologists claim, appear before the child turns 7. Actually, many preemies become hyperactive.

ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity (constant moving), lack of attention (inability to plan), and spontaneity (interrupting others). Some kids with ADHD are loud, while some can be miles away in their inner dreams.

Having a hyperactive child can be challenging, but remember that your little one can learn how to manage, especially when he or she is interested in a topic or an activity. Don’t be scared to adjust your expectations and be careful with medications because sometimes the diagnosis ADHD is too overused with no reason.

11 Forming Bad Habits

Forming habits is crucial, especially for toddlers. Feeding, sleeping, potty training, there are so many things that our little one should learn. In some stressful situation, however, some children might have poor performance and some physiological and behavioral issues can be noticed.

Some kids can develop habit disorders that are often used to reduce tension, something that can be compared to an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Thumb sucking, nail biting, hair pulling, and breath holding are some of the signs we should never ignore. Thumb sucking, for example, is normal but it can cause problems in the developing teeth.

The problem with some tics is that can be automatized easily and implemented in the normal behavior.

Interestingly enough, some behaviors can be copied from the parents, while other issues can develop when the child is alone.

Stuttering is another issue, which is not related to reducing tension. However, no worries: it doesn’t persist in many kids as they learn to speak and communicate.

10 Being Aggressive

Punching, hitting, stealing and biting are some of the behaviors that should never be ignored. A parent must even punish their child if they hurt someone intentionally.

Also, other not so obvious acts of aggression, such as pulling someone’s toy or playing too rough, should be addressed. Parents adviser Michele Borba, the author of Don't Give Me That Attitude!: 24 Rude, Selfish, Insensitive Things Kids Do and How to Stop Them, says that if parents ignore such situations, aggressive behavior can become a habit for the child when he or she turns 8.

Some children might even cause a real physical harm to an animal or they might develop some social problems as an adult.

Teaching a child to be independent is important but tolerating the others around them is more. So always confront aggression.

9 Never Listening

Sometimes kids do things on purpose and one of the annoying things is when your little one ignores you and pretends not to hear you. Some of these behaviors escalate when other people are present, which can be seen as an attempt of the child to show off.

Never let your child ignore you. He or she should listen to your words and should be careful with boundaries. If you let your child ignore your orders, he or she might see this action as a power play and develop some social disorders in the future.

Make an eye contact or take something away (a toy, for instance) as a punishment. Nowadays, not letting your child watch a TV show or playing on their tablet or phone is one of the worst consequences they truly fear, so consider that as well. Always take an action if your kid keeps practicing selective hearing.

8 Coping An Attitude

We all fear teenagers that slam doors and roll their eyes. However, tantrums and little attitude are normal for little kids as well, and can be seen as a way to test you, your orders and your authority. Breath holding and tantrums can be normal as a result of the child’ inability to control their frustration and environment.

Never ignore inappropriate attitude though because this can result in disrespectful or even aggressive behavior toward other people. Unfortunately, these actions can lead to disruptive behavior. As a result, some children might steal or be dishonest when they grow up. Disruptive behavior in its worst forms results in aggression, antisocial behavior or arson.

Actually, any disturbances in the emotional and behavioral development might be caused by an inconsistent or abusive parenting style, psychologists claim. That’s why always talk to your child and set some limits that can guide the little person.

7 Taking, Taking & Taking

Children should be independent. Parents are not only cleaning and feeding machines. Therefore, your little one should be involved in all the housework that their age allows. You should always stimulate helpful behavior and consider treats as a nice external motivator.

However, if your kid takes something that you are supposed to give, a bar of chocolate, for example, you should always confront that. In the end, you are an adult and a parent and the kid should see you not only as a friend but as authority.

Kids should ask for permission because this can teach them how to follow social rules, especially when they become older. State your rules clearly and be consistent. Don’t confuse your child and “punish” them if they don’t follow your home rules. So next time your kid turns the TV on without asking you, don’t give them their favorite cookie for a dessert.

6 Not Telling The Truth

Every kid loves fantasizing and making up wonderful stories. Fairy tales are crucial for their imagination and help their thinking broaden. Many children have an imaginary friend at some point. Many kids tell their parents they’ve eaten or tell their teachers surreal stories about their holiday.

However, never ignore or tolerate lying. Specialists say that lying can become an automatic process easily, which means that in the future when a child wants something or tries to avoid an unpleasant activity, they might exaggerate the truth in order to “break free.”

Make sure that you talk to your little one and explore more about the motives behind them hiding the truth. Teach kids they should take responsibility for their words and show them that other people might hurt when they don’t hear the truth.

Remember the story about the boy who cried Wolf?

5 Irrational Fears

Being anxious is normal for people, especially for children because they are still learning about the world around them and all the social roles that need to be adopted.

Getting out of your own comfort zone can be challenging even for you as a parent but it’s something that should be sought in order to develop normally.

If your child is too anxious though, this generalized behavior can and might lead to an anxiety disorder. Data shows that around 7% of children develop anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, OCD, and phobias are some of the common anxiety disorders among children.

Teach your child to comfort their fears. From the monster under the bed to talking to strangers, make your kid aware that taking reasonable risks is normal in life.

Actually, school phobia is another problem that can be a result of anxiety and fears. Never ignore such behavior and consider cognitive-behavioral therapy for your child in case fears and phobias persist.

4 Challenges Learning

Each child is different and develops different habits in different stages of his or her life. When kids start kindergarten or school, the differences in learning can become even more obvious.

Some kids might experience difficulties with numbers or letters and while this is completely normal, there are some signs you should never ignore and that might indicate a learning disability.

From difficulties with tying shoe laces to reading, learning is a challenging topic. Learning disabilities can be categorized into three groups:

  • Language disorders
  • Problems with reading and writing, maths included
  • Impaired motor and memory skills

The child psychiatrist Ron Liebman reassures parents that IQ is not positively correlated with learning disabilities. Many children with normal IQ might experience some difficulties, which often leads to frustration and low self-esteem.

You can spot some signs before your little one turns 5. Don’t worry, living with a learning disability is normal.

3 Consistently Not Sleeping Well

Sleeping is a painful topic for many exhausted parents. Babies eat and sleep most of the time, but just like adults, the longest sleep should be between midnight and morning. By the age of 1 most of the babies should stop waking up at night. Of course, having regular sleeping patterns is a challenge even for toddlers but sometimes children might have some sleep disorders.

From snoring, through being tired during the day, to sleepwalking - sleep disorders interfere with the everyday life of the child and can cause insomnia later on in life. Nightmares can induce more fears and sleepwalking can be life-threatening.

Don’t ignore signs that indicate any troubles with sleeping and try to help your little one regulate their sleep patterns. Try not to hold your baby while he or she is falling asleep, make sure the temperature and the noise in the house are fine and don’t give your child big meals before bed.

2 Dealing With Running Away

One of the many things parents should never ignore is if their kid runs away. And how could you? Everyone would go crazy!

One of the worst nightmares for parents is to realize their kid is missing. Many kids run away only to gain power and attract attention. Other children just have some unrealistic dreams about living on the streets. Teenagers run away due to alcohol or drug abuse or just because they’re under peer pressure and their friends tell them how cool it is to be homeless.

When a kid doesn’t know how to deal with stress or a problem, such as a divorce, financial problems, or a new member of the family, they can run away.

Chronic running away, on the other side, indicates that a kid wants to manipulate the adults. Threats should be addressed as well.

Try to talk to your kid and discuss family rules, expectations and parents’ interactions. Show your child you are one family!

1 Being Abused

Another nightmare for parents is to find out their kid has been abused, especially sexually or by a family member. Sexual abuse includes many aspects, and there are non-touching activities that are abuse (showing pornography, watching a child undress, etc.)

There are warning signs you should never avoid:

  • Mood swings
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Anger
  • Depression

Some of the physical signs include nightmares, wetting, more sexualized behavior, unexplained gifts, self-harm, and running away. There are more obvious ones, such as bruises, bleeding, STD or pregnancy in older girls.

Remember that there are different stages of development and many children are curious about their sexual differences. Masturbation is normal for little kids but if it occurs too often it might be a sign of abuse. Teens or disabled kids might be very shy about their sexuality and that’s why they can be a target of abuse more often.

Be open about sexual matters and trust your kid.

Resources: Austism Speaks, Empowering Parents, HealthLine, Kids Health, Parents

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