Parenting Hack

Maybe everybody knows this already but I recently figured it out and it’s making me happy.

So you know when toddlers learn to ignore you? Like when you ask something and they pretend you are not there? And you say it 15 times more and they act like you don’t exist? And then you get angry and acquire an annoying didactic tone? Maybe you don’t but I’m a college professor. When I open my mouth, people shut up and start taking notes. I’m not mentally equipped for being ignored.

I went on the FB mom page, and everybody has this problem, but nobody offers a solution that doesn’t sound like it’s fit for military barracks. So I thought about it and realized: if she’s ignoring me, this means she doesn’t need me. And I’m free to do whatever I need while she concentrates on something other than me for a change while building a crucial life skill of being alone with herself and her thoughts. Why am I trying to be needed when I don’t even like it? So I stopped trying to get myself noticed, and it’s been a huge relief.

This is the best thing I’ve discovered since the life-changing idea to stop saying things like “Time to get dressed / brush teeth / put on shoes, etc”, which are invariably met with a firm “NO!!” and instead ask “which toothpaste do you prefer today, Elmo or Mickey Mouse?” Getting her up and out of the door in the mornings now takes exactly 10 minutes. (Another hack is never to let them sit down for any purpose on the way between bed and car seat in the morning. Once they sat down, you’re screwed for the morning.)

9 thoughts on “Parenting Hack

  1. I have no memories of this but apparently I was so good at tuning out adults that my mother thought there might something wrong with my hearing, she mentioned the problem to a cousin who said “you’re just not saying anything he wants to hear, say ‘time for ice cream!’ or ‘let’s have some cake’ in a soft voice and see what happens.”
    Eventually adults around me mostly let me stew in my own thoughts.


    1. I had the opposite happen to me. My mother raged that I wasn’t listening to her (she’s also a teacher) until somebody suggested taking me to a doctor and we discovered that my hearing had been damaged by ear infections and I honestly didn’t hear.

      The way I was tested was the doctor asked me to turn around and offered treats and toys in a low voice. No healthy kid would have resisted. 🙂


  2. Wow, all your parent hacks so far have been really excellent. Can you tag them all somehow for future use? And thanks for sharing these!


    1. I’m glad you like them! I’m always worried people will see them as criticism of their parenting style, which is not intended. Kids differ enormously, so it’s always an individualized approach.


  3. Good lifehack!
    Although I wouldn’t give more than two or three choices per little decision personally. I’ve seen mealtimes devolve into an endless buffet with adults offering choices to a toddler who is done eating.

    I spent four days in the company of a five year old who threw one epic tantrum each day because she associated “groups of adults laughing” with “people laughing at her.” I really wanted to say something to her parents because that doesn’t seem normal. [I can’t comment on “other children” since she’s an only child.]


  4. Ha! I just walked by a mother and (maybe) 18 month old yesterday and the kid was lying on the ground screaming. The mom was patiently saying, over and over, “do you want to walk or ride in the stroller?” Had to be her first child. The correct action would have been to scoop the kid up, either carry her home or ride her home in the stroller, and PUT HER DOWN FOR A NAP.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 18 months, maybe. But by 2, most kids are sufficiently physically developed that scooping them against their will becomes completely out of the question. So one will have to develop alternative strategies anyways.

      To be honest, I do miss the time where I could just carry her where I wanted. But that time is long gone. 🙂


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