A girl ignores her brother's attempts to annoy her.

Teaching Children to Ignore Negative Behaviors

by Amy Morin

Why is it that some children can ignore their parent's requests yet they need frequent reminders to ignore a sibling's attempts to annoy them? When kids learn to ignore siblings, peers or just random misbehaving children, it helps make the negative behaviors stop. However, teaching kids to ignore negative behaviors from others will certainly challenge any parent's patience.

1. Ignore Negative Behaviors in the Classroom

Class clowns and attention-seeking children disrupt the entire classroom. Ignoring misbehavior from peers also stops the behavior faster and perhaps more importantly, preserves the teacher's sanity. Assist your child in practicing ignoring skills by purposely distracting him while he's doing some written work. Teach him to avoid eye contact and pretend he doesn't hear what is going on around him while staying focused on his work. Praise his efforts to ignore distractions and practice this skill regularly.

2. Ignore Teasing and Bullying

Teaching kids to ignore teasing and bullying is a fine art. You don't want kids to become defenseless victims but you also don't want them to give the bully any extra attention that may encourage the behavior to continue. Explain that behavior such as crying can reinforce the bully's behavior. Encourage kids to confidently ignore bullies who tease by keeping their heads held high. Also discuss the importance of talking to a trusted adult when bullying occurs.

3. Ignore Sibling's Negative Behaviors

It's just a fact of life that siblings will purposely annoy, tease and torment one another. The more their sibling screams, cries and whines, the more encouragement they receive to continue. Teach kids to pretend they aren't bothered by their sibling's attempts to get their attention. Demonstrate how a lack of a reaction quickly bores the tormentor and stops the behavior. With some practice you'll be able to restore peace in your home, at least temporarily.

4. Ignore Negative Behaviors from Other Kids

Whether you witness a screaming child in the store or a child at church using his armpit as a musical instrument, discuss the importance of ignoring. Teach kids to ignore behaviors such as screaming, whining, tantrums, disruptive noises and other distasteful behaviors. Kids might need a reminder to ignore because they'll likely be curious about the behaviors they're witnessing. Provide lots of positive attention and praise for ignoring so they know their efforts don't go unnoticed.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including Mom.me and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images