Why You Should Ignore Your Kids...And How It's Worked for My Family

Why you should ignore your kidsWhy you should ignore your kidsIgnoring my kids, just the right amount, might be paying off.

Of course, there are concerns about giving kids the attention they need and not setting them up to act out or blah blah blah.

But in my house, the attention kids need does not match up with the attention kids want. And I think this might be responsible for some changes I've noticed.

For instance, instead of leaping to their beck and call, I ask them to tell me what they want when they ask for me. This forces them to articulate a need, and, in the case of the older one, to justify my help. They have to think about what they want and what counts as a good reason to ask for my intervention. The result? They've started to ask for permission instead of assistance.

Related: 18 childhood experiences my kids won't have

Can you imagine a world in which your kids assume they can do something and only wonder if they are allowed? I couldn't have, a couple of months ago. Part of this is, I'm sure, just the fact that they're older and have more dexterity, sure-footedness, and daring (dining room chairs are being pushed up to kitchen counters so that bananas can be easily reached by tiny hands), but some of it has to be that they understand I'm going to assume they have the skill already, so if they don't want to waste everybody's time, they'd best not come to me over laziness and trifles.

Or so I tell myself.

Anyway, the point of this is just to say that ignoring your kids might do them some good. I don't mean that you should make them wonder if you exist by not answering them; I mean that you maybe shouldn't do everything they want you to just because it's easier than dealing with the nagging. Maybe there is a nagging wall that, if you can break through to the other side, will reveal a serene land of permission instead of pestering.

(This philosophy has no relation to the large increase in time I've desired to spend playing Mass Effect. It's just a coincidence.)

- By Shawn Burns

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Shawn BurnsShawn BurnsShawn Burns is a father, philosopher, and writer who lives in the Silicon Valley. He has been, at times, a stay-at-home dad, a work-at-home dad, a not-so-much-work-at-home dad, and a work-at-the-office dad. He has been writing about parenting, philosophy, travel, and social media since 2007.