When Your Kid Ignores You
Jamie Nolan, 3, knows he has to get ready for bed -- his mom has told him so several times -- but he won't budge from his train set. "He just ignores me when he's concentrating on that track," says his mother, Robin, of Raleigh, NC.
Your child's seemingly selective hearing may be totally aggravating, but it's also normal, says Alison Steier, Ph.D., clinical director of the Arizona Institute for Early Childhood Development in Phoenix. Toddlers can get so absorbed in what they're doing that nothing else registers. They're also developing their sense of self, and blatantly ignoring you to do what they want is part of the process.
To get your child to listen to you without being a nag:
Get his attention. Look him in the eye, gently place your hand on his arm, and give him specific directions -- "It's time to stop and go to bed" versus "Can you stop playing now?"
Be consistent. If you say you're going to leave the park in five minutes, do it (rather than staying to chat with another mom
after that time limit). Otherwise, your child will learn that your requests can be put off.
Use humor. That's what Robin Nolan does. "When Jamie ignores me, I call him 'broken ears' and look inside them. He laughs, and next time, he listens."