Oh? It’s Just a Phase? You Promise?

Back when BigBrother was two, I would lament the tantrums and whining and general awfulness of the Terrible Twos. Seasoned parents would look at me, laugh and say, “Just wait until he’s three.” I thought, “What the heck could be worse than this?” Certainly nothing was worse than the time he threw himself on the floor in a restaurant because I couldn’t understand what he wanted to eat. (It was at that point that we stopped visiting restaurants until he exited the Terrible Twos.) Certainly nothing was worse than fearing to leave the house because of what we knew would happen.

Oh, the naivety of parenting for the first time.

Three has been… different. The public tantrums are minimal. He knows my serious voice. He knows my serious look. Reminding him of the rules that we discussed on the way to the restaurant, coffee shop, store or any public place usually gets him to calm down. That’s all fine and dandy. In fact, being in public isn’t the issue that it once was as he likes people to shower him with compliments and, as such, is usually a gem in public. A loud gem but a gem all the same.

The issue with three, however, is that it brings different challenges. Challenges that test my patience more than a kicking, screaming, hitting tantrum in front of my grandparents. (Though, that’s pretty darn mortifying, yes.) The issues we’re currently having are: supreme negotiation and absolute ignoring. The former I can handle as I’m pretty good at negotiating myself. It is the latter that has driven me insane this past week.

To the point that I googled “why is my three year old ignoring me?” To the point that I asked his preschool teacher to pay attention to him yesterday at school to see if he was having an active hearing problem due to a few ear infections since starting said preschool. To the point that I cried in the bathroom the other day.


By the way, the teacher said his hearing is just fine. When he wants to hear, that is.

My googling, of course, brought me to some other blogging laments about the beginnings of ignoring which apparently start at three and either do or don’t end. Maybe it’s more a phase that comes and goes. Gosh, I hope it goes. It is a phase, isn’t it? Like this blogger, we have tried talking louder. That doesn’t work. In fact, FireDad tried whispering at him yesterday, hoping that it would force him to pay more attention. That didn’t work either.

So what is a parent to do? Remember, we were just told that he’s mannerly at school. And it’s really not mannerly to ignore people, parents or otherwise. So, how do we teach him that ignoring isn’t nice? I suppose I could use some reverse psychology and ignore him but that just creates whining and, well, I’m not a fan of whining. It’s also somewhat frustrating as LittleBrother is currently in a repeating phase so there’s never any quiet coming from his mouth. Different phases can be confusing. One is always talking. One is silent. What to do, what to do?

I should just start negotiating with him.

If only he’d listen.


Cyber Monday

12 Replies to “Oh? It’s Just a Phase? You Promise?”

    1. @Annie @ PhD in Parenting, I’ve got to offer a HUGE thanks for this comment. It doesn’t make him LISTEN but it sure explains a few things. Thank you thank you thank you.

  1. If I had a dollar for every time that I have told Alexis to “look at my eyes” so that I can see she’s listening, I would be SO wealthy. It drives me crazy that I even have to remind her to look at me when I’m talking to her because she KNOWS. Gah!

    Burgh Babys last blog post..Just Words

  2. Like the first post, that’s what I use with my four kids. I ask them to “let me see your eyes” first to get them to look at me and then I begin talking. And many times, more than I would like, I have to physically go to them, get on their level and then talk. It can be most exasperating but at least then I know I’ve done what I could to be heard and the consequences that come from not listening to me are all their own.

  3. I agree: “Look at me, please,” worked well to get Gracie through the worst of is. (Bee is just starting this phase. Lucky me.) I have *also* found that following the following steps seem to help for our house: 1) Issue my request/instructions/etc. Which is ignored. 2) Repeat what you said in your Mommy Voice. 3) Announce the consequence if said delinquent doesn’t do what you’ve asked. 4) Count to three and enforce your consequence. I’ve found that their hearing usually improves after a few rounds of “Wow, Mom Really Means It!”

    Katie in MAs last blog post..Idle hands.

  4. I’ll have to look up which book it was, but it talked about the chemistry of a boy’s brain and that they are very one-track-minded, so it takes multiple forms of communication at the same time to really really reach them sometimes.

    In order to really force Jake to listen, we get down on eye level, touch him (either on the hand or both our hands on his shoulders/elbows) and then speak, using the monotone, firm voice. Look him in the eye, ask if he’s listening and then ask for affirmation that he heard whatever x,y,z order was just given.

    Frustrating and time consuming, yes, but it eliminates the intentional or unintentional ignroing that goes on. Don’t know if it would work for you, but works for us.

    And yeah, frustrating!

    Nikki Jos last blog post..Candid Smiles: Love Thursday

  5. Okay, I am by no means saying that my kid does NOT ignore me on a regular basis, but I have to tell you what HAS worked for us. He is the same as Big Brother – he has limited hearing loss. If I really want him to listen to me, I have to do these things:
    1) Get down on his level and make him look me in the eye. This alone can be quite a task.
    2) If he interrupts me while I am speaking, I stop, give him The Look and tell him that he needs to be quiet until I am done talking. This is not fool proof.
    3) Make him repeat what I have told him after I have said it.

    Often, he can’t tell me what I said. He’s too busy thinking about what HE wants to say or what he was doing before I stopped him. So we repeat until he can properly tell me what it was that I want him to hear. It’s so frustrating. Though it’s sorta funny when he says something along these lines: “It’s a hula hoop. Say hula hoop, mama.” :D

    1. @sara, Heck, I’m just happy to know it’s not just my kid, yo. I have been getting down on his level today. Minus this morning when he lost all privileges for his playroom (long story), we’ve had a better day. It’s still selective, at best, but there’s less frustration on my part.

      Today, that is.

  6. No solutions from me. With one child a timeout was the ultimate solution for repeated ignoring. It’s defiant behavior and needs to be punished. She hated.

    You are right about the “some continue ignoring” and “some grow out of it.” My youngest and oldest are very challenging, argue every point, want their own way all the time, and ignore me. Timeouts at the younger ages and losing things they love for the older ages are effective methods of discipline. But, here’s the thing their stubbornness is actually a plus in school. Both are high achievers.

    My middle child is the exact opposite. Listens, always follows directions, but she can be a little sneaky. I often don’t notice that she is doing what I have told her not to do since she generally listens.

    Motherhood is hard…always need to bring your A game or at least fake it!

    Musings from Mes last blog post..Wednesdays R Us: No Photo, Just Griping

    1. @Musings from Me, My Mom has said that BB is just like me: stubborn but won’t try to pull the wool over your eyes. And that LB will be the one who will smile while trying to pull something over on me. I think she may be right. Today BB lost privileges for his playroom after a huge issue this morning and that in itself made a huge impression. (There are toys elsewhere in the house but the “cool stuff” is in the playroom.)

      And yesterday I had to fake it. I feel a bit more on my A game today. WOO!

  7. I’m reading “How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too” and I’m finding it very practical.

    To get a preschooler to listen, you have to interrupt whatever they’re doing – take away the toy, TV, etc. That will get their attention, as they’ll whine they want it back. Then, you say what you want, and explain if they want to continue, they need to listen.

    With Jack, most of the not listening happens around dinner and bedtime. So, we say, “Boys who can’t listen don’t get stories”. We then take away one bedtime story for every egregious listening error. (He starts with 5.) This might work with BB because I know he loves books.

    In very important situations, I’ll make him repeat what I say. I’ll hold his hands to stop him from leaving until he can tell me what I said. Not exactly, of course, but the gist of it. That works rather well, but it is time consuming.

    1. @Robyn, Ah, very cool idea with the removing of one book each time. And from everyone else’s comments, I’m learning that this is a time consuming battle but that it’s possible to survive. Hopefully…

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