6 Little Behavior Problems You Shouldn't Ignore

Here are six misbehaviors you may be tempted to overlook -- and how to put an end to them pronto.
How to Discipline Your Kids
How to Discipline Your Kids

Interrupting When You're Talking

Why you shouldn't ignore it: Your child may be incredibly excited to tell you something or ask a question, but allowing her to butt in to your conversations doesn't teach her how to be considerate of others or occupy herself when you're busy. "As a result, she'll think that she's entitled to other people's attention and won't be able to tolerate frustration," says psychologist Jerry Wyckoff, Ph.D., coauthor of Getting Your Child From No to Yes.

How to stop it: The next time you're about to make a call or visit with a friend, tell your child that she needs to be quiet and not interrupt you. Then settle her into an activity or let her play with a special toy that you keep tucked away. If she tugs on your arm while you're talking, point to a chair or stair and tell her quietly to sit there until you're finished. Afterward, let her know that she won't get what she's asking for when she interrupts you.

Playing Too Rough

Why you shouldn't ignore it: You know that you have to step in when your child punches a playmate, but you shouldn't disregard more subtle aggressive acts, like shoving his brother or pinching a friend. "If you don't intervene, rough behavior can become an entrenched habit by age 8. Plus, it sends a message that hurting people is acceptable," says Parents adviser Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of Don't Give Me That Attitude!: 24 Rude, Selfish, Insensitive Things Kids Do and How to Stop Them.

How to stop it: Confront aggressive behavior on the spot. Pull your child aside and tell him, "That hurt Janey. How would it feel if she did that to you?" Let him know that any action that hurts another person is not allowed. Before his next playdate, remind him that he shouldn't play rough, and help him practice what he can say if he gets angry or wants a turn. If he does it again, end the playdate.

Back to School: When Kids Argue With Other Kids
Back to School: When Kids Argue With Other Kids

Pretending Not to Hear You

Why you shouldn't ignore it: Telling your child two, three, even four times to do something she doesn't want to do, such as get into the car or pick up her toys, sends the message that it's okay to disregard you and that she--not you--is running the show. "Reminding your child again and again just trains her to wait for the next reminder rather than to pay attention to you the first time you tell her something," says psychologist Kevin Leman, Ph.D., author of First-Time Mom: Getting Off on the Right Foot -- From Birth to First Grade. "Tuning you out is a power play, and if you allow the behavior to continue, your child is likely to become defiant and controlling."

How to stop it: Instead of talking to your child from across the room, walk over to her and tell her what she needs to do. Have her look at you when you're speaking and respond by saying, "Okay, Mommy." Touching her shoulder, saying her name, and turning off the TV can also help get her attention. If she doesn't get moving, impose a consequence.

When 6-year-old Jack Lepkowski, of Ossining, New York, started practicing "selective hearing," his parents decided to take action. They told him that if they had to ask him to do something more than once, such as come to dinner or take a bath, he would get to watch only one video that day (his usual allotment is two) or he'd miss a playdate that week. If they had to remind him twice, he would lose two videos or two playdates. "I try not to give in because otherwise his selective hearing will continue," says his mother, Lydia. "This tactic seems to be working!"

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