Dealing With Annoying Behavior

QUESTION:

Lately, my 4-year-old is ignoring me, and I’m sure he’s doing it just to annoy me. I know he does not have a hearing problem; he can hear the words, “Do you want to play a video game?” when whispered on the other side of the house. But, if I say, ask him what he would like to drink with dinner, he just doesn’t respond. Then, when dinner comes and I give him milk (but he wanted tea or juice), he has a meltdown. How much effort should I be putting into making him listen and respond to me? I know in a discipline situation, if he is ignoring me, I go to him and make sure he is looking at me and tell him what he needs to do. But, in a situation like drinks for dinner, I’m busy. I’m usually trying to keep my one-year-old away from the hot stuff and getting everything ready and on the table. If I get no response from my 4-year-old, should I do the “get down next to him and make him look at me and ask again” thing, or just give him what I want to give him, and let him deal with it?

Answer:

My first thought is that, perhaps, your son is introverted and maybe thinking about the choice? A friend of mine (the extreme introvert) and I (the extreme extrovert) had a talk about this one day. She said that when someone asks her a question, she doesn’t answer because she’s thinking. I said that if someone doesn’t respond immediately, at least to tell me they’re thinking about it, I assume they didn’t hear me. She thought I was crazy.

I would suggest offering your son the choice, telling him you will ask again in a few minutes and expect his decision. And tell him what not making a decision will result in. For example, say, “What do you want to drink? The choice is milk or water. Think about it and I’ll ask again in a minute. No decision means you get milk.”