Children are a large responsibility and need constant care and supervision. While most parents are engaged in their children’s lives, it can be common to tune out children, especially in times of stress or a busy schedule. Tuning out children may not seem harmful but it can actually have significant short and long-term effects on kids. These are some of the reactions that may occur and what parents can do to fix the problem.
In the short-term, kids usually realize when they’re being ignored. This can cause two primary reactions. In one case, the child may realize that he is being ignored and become more introverted and reclusive instead of continuing to be an active part of the family life. Other kids may react in the opposite way. Instead of retreating, they may become louder and try to engage the parent’s attention in any way possible. This habit can lead to breaking and throwing toys and other small objects in some cases.
When children are tuned out consistently over time, long-term effects begin to be seen. Children will usually give up trying to engage their parent’s attention and instead look to others for recognition and relationships. The parent-child relationship is damaged and children stop trusting and relying on their parents as much. Parents may notice that their active, happy child has become withdrawn, especially in family settings but has a very different personality with peers. This is a common symptom of what can happen when parents tune out their children over time
Breaking Bad Habits
In order to prevent both short and long-term consequences, parents need to take several important steps. The first step is that they should acknowledge their kids as much as possible. When it may not be possible to pay attention to your kids, instead inform them that you are in the middle of something currently but want to continue the conversation at a later point. Make this point specific and then stick with it. Most kids recognize that their parents cannot drop everything and pay attention all the time, but they will notice when they’re being ignored. Set aside family times and then remind kids of other responsibilities when they come up.
If children have started demonstrating signs of being tuned out over time, then parents may have to work a little harder. Set up times to spend together as a family and ask kids about their lives. Engaging in an open conversation can help show kids that their lives are important to their parents. For some kids, it may take a few times before they begin to open up. However, making time for them and even telling them that they are important helps to open up channels of communication.
While parents don’t always think about the effect of tuning out their kids, it has been shown to have serious consequences both immediately and in the long-term. However, it is still possible to build a strong relationship with kids by making some changes and ensuring that there is time set aside for them.