This is the best parenting book I've ever read! Everything you need to know to end all the power struggles and discipline problems with your kids, ages 2 to 18!
Last year I read Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction by Catherine Pearlman and it changed my life. It is, hands down, the best Parenting Book, I've ever read (and I've read a lot of parenting books)!
The basic premise is simple: ignore behaviors you don't want to see more of and they will go away or diminish. This is something I've heard Ralphie from Simply On Purpose talk about many times - her line is "don't water the weeds." However, I find that, like most aspects of parenting, it's easier said than done. That's where Ignore It! comes in.
If you're experiencing any discipline problems or even just annoying behaviors, this is the best parenting book for you! Whether it's kids who won't stay in bed, siblings that can't stop arguing, or teenagers that don't understand why No means No, this book can help you.
Why You Should Listen to Catherine Pearlman
First, let me tell you why you should listen to Catherine Pearlman in the first place. She's been a licensed clinical social worker for more than 20 years. She has a master's of social work and a PhD in social welfare. She is also the founder of The Family Coach, a private practice specializing in helping families resolve everyday problems related to discipline.
But, all that work experience aside, she's also a parent herself and a fantastic human being. She's the sort of person that sees a flyer in Starbucks about someone needing a kidney and actually donates her kidney to this stranger in need (this really happened just two months ago!).
What I'm saying here is that Catherine Pearlman is definitely someone I want to take parenting advice from!
Ignore It!: The Best Parenting Book
What Catherine Pearlman has managed to do in this book is provide all of the necessary information and useful strategies to really make the principle of "Ignore It" work for parents and their kids, ages 2 to 18.
The book is organized into three parts. Part I introduces the theoretical basis for Ignore It and the basics of how and why it works. Part II is the how-to section, with scenarios so you can see it in action. Part III is where you learn how to encourage more desirable behaviors and how to provide consequences for behavior that can't be ignored. There's a section of FAQ's and plenty of encouragement to help you make this work in your own family.
- Behavior that is reinforced is repeated.
- Behavior that evokes a negative response is still repeated because any attention is a reward.
- There are two main motivations for behavior: to obtain something or to avoid something.
- Behavior that is not reinforced (or is ignored) wanes.
The book is easy to read (not at all like a text book!). It's just over 200 pages and honestly, you'll fly right through it. It's full of real life scenarios to help you see how this plays out for real parents and kids.
This book will show you how to:
- Avoid engaging in a power struggle
- Stop using attention as a reward for behavior modification
- Use effective behavior modification techniques to diminish and often eliminate problem behaviors
I can't recommend it highly enough!
Do You Really Need to Read the Book?
You may be wondering if you can just try the "Ignore It" principle without reading the book. I would say NO! You should read this book!
It sounds simple - just ignore the negative behavior - but when you're putting it into action with your kids, it's so much more nuanced than that. What about extinction bursts (when the behavior gets way worse before it gets better), or behavior that harms other people and things (you can't ignore it, but Dr. Pearlman will tell you what you can do), and what if you do it for a while, but then you slip and give attention to negative behavior in a moment of weakness?
Plus, it's important to understand the difference between ignoring bad behaviors and ignoring your kids. The goal here is to more meaningfully engage with your kids. Your kids shouldn't feel ignored if you're doing it right.
The book covers all the ins and outs and you're going to be a more effective parent with Dr. Pearlman's help - I know I am.
How Ignore It! Has Worked For Me
Since I read this book last year, I've used Dr. Pearlman's strategies and principles in a hundred different ways, for issues big and small. I say that this is the Best Parenting Book because it's dramatically improved our family life.
For example, I had one child that was so resistant to participating in ANY household chore. When asked to do something, real drama always ensued. She would cry, throw temper tantrums, and pick fights with her siblings over simple things like making the bed or picking up the Legos.
It was getting to the point where it was easier for me to just do her jobs (see how the tantrums were working in her favor!) rather than engage in the power struggle. But, then my other kids noticed the disparity and were upset too.
After reading Ignore It! it became very clear that I'd been giving so much attention to her negative behaviors and thus reinforcing them - watering those weeds until they were flourishing! I started putting the Ignore It! strategies to work right away and saw immediate improvement. It took months of really sticking to the plan before it entirely disappeared, but it worked!
This very morning, that same child got up and mopped the bathroom floor without even being asked! She knows cleaning the bathroom is her job for the week and she knows what her reward will be at the end of the week if she gets it done. She also knows that if she cries, whines, or complains, she's not going to get ANY reaction out of me, so those behaviors don't work for her anymore and they've disappeared.
The Ignore It Principle for my Older Kids
This principle works for kids ages 2 to 18. I've found it just as helpful with my 13 year old as I have with my 5 year old.
With my older girls, the "Ignore It" principle has helped me end so many obnoxious conversations about how "No means No." Before, it would be so easy to engage in that with them.
- Can I play a game on the computer?
- No, we're not using the computer this morning.
- But, that's not fair because x,y,z. Can't I just . . . What if I . . . Please . . . etc.
Once I finally realized that after I say no, if I just ignore all the arguments that come next, they'll eventually give up. Over time, they've realized that if I say no, there's really no point in arguing so they don't bother anymore. Engaging in the arguments with them just made it drag on, and sometimes I would break down and give in to something that I didn't really think was a good idea.
When you negotiate, you lose even if you win something. Catherine Pearlman
I'm not perfect at this, but I'm working on it. And it's ended a lot of frustration for me.
I also highly recommend following both Ralphie (@simplyonpurpose) and Catherine Pearlman (@catherinepearlman) on Instagram. Check Catherine Pearlman's Instagram Stories to hear her talk about the Ignore It principle. She also answers people's questions in her stories. If you're having trouble with a specific problem and you send it her way, she just might answer your question too!
You can also go check out her website, The Family Coach, for more information.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments here and I'll do my best to answer them. I've read the book three times now!