When less is more: 4 misbehaviors parents can ignore

If parents want to curb bad behavior, they need to adopt the less is more philosophy.

When less is more: 4 misbehaviors parents can ignore

There are times when less is more.

In writing, for example, less means leaving room for readers to fill in some details via their imagination. In cooking it means allowing just a few ingredients to shine. And in parenting, it means permitting children to grow and develop without parental involvement and attention to every minute detail.

Unfortunately, modern day parenting commands a contrarian philosophy, one that dictates that more is more.

Parents are expected to devote every last bit of attention and effort to raising smart, successful, perfect little beings. This means more time volunteering at school. More time showering our kids with attention while they do even the smallest achievements.


And it means spending hours upon hours negotiating, lecturing and trying to manage difficult behavior in our kids. Conventional wisdom decrees that all undesirable behavior must be conquered with more parenting.


Um, no. Wrong.

Parents are running themselves ragged trying to live up to a standard that is untenable. What’s worse is that their endless offerings of attention are having disastrous consequences.

Parents are exhausted from trying to manage whining and complaining and tantrums. All the while, children are learning that those same behaviors win them both attention and, quite often, more TV time or cookies and ice cream.

As a result, we wind up with an endless pattern. The kids misbehave. The parents react. The kids misbehave. The parents react. The kids …

This is why, if parents want to curb behavior so they can start enjoying time as a family again, they need to adopt the less is more philosophy.

Here are four ways parents can do less and improve more:

Ignore the whining

Responding to whining is like furiously scratching an itchy mosquito bite. It soothes for a moment. But, ultimately, the action results in more itching.

But whhhhhy can’t I have more screen time?

But whhhyyyy can’t I have a sleepover at Jenny’s house?

But whhhhhyyyy can’t I have a cookie right before dinner?

Kids whine because they know parents can’t help but respond. Sometimes kids get a lecture. Sometimes a beaten-down mother or father gives in to the request. It doesn’t matter.

Kids have learned that whining is highly effective in getting some benefit —even negative attention is still a reward. So stop responding to whining. Just ignore it. Soon enough your kids will see that their whining doesn’t produce the typical results and they will try to get your attention in more appropriate ways.

Don’t negotiate

Parenting isn’t a democracy. Sure, kids can and often should have some input into decisions that may affect them. But at the end of the day, parents want to be able to make choices without an endless barrage of mediation requests. Parents often think negotiation with kids is alright because everyone wins with a compromise. Nope. In this case, only the kids win.

Once negotiation commences, children believe everything is up for debate. Before parents know it, they are negotiating the number of carrots little Becky needs to eat at dinner, or how many more minutes Mikey can watch “Bob the Builder” before bedtime. Want to avoid feeling as if you live in mediation court? Simple—don’t negotiate. Stand firm and ignore any efforts to derail your plan.

Ignore anything annoying

Kids can be annoying. I know it’s a weird thing to say, but, well, sometimes they are. They make awful noises. They fidget and tap and interrupt without saying “excuse me.” Just because the behavior grates on parents doesn’t mean it’s helpful to admonish it. In fact, it’s detrimental.

Kids who are looking to get a rise out of parents—and then succeed—are only encouraged to keep at their behavior. And children who have difficulty controlling some of these behaviors feel badly about themselves when admonished.

When parents simply ignore these behaviors they suddenly feel better. Often the annoyances disappear. But even if they don’t, they hold no power over the parent and parents eventually hardly even notice them.

Pretend you don’t hear cursing or other disrespectful talk

Typically, kids curse for two different reasons. Little kids who’ve somehow heard a bad word have no idea what they are saying. But the reaction they receive from parents (laughing, yelling) teaches them that those words are powerful. The other type of cursing is done by older children trying to enrage their parents, ensuring a fiery response.

And that’s the point. Any reaction from a parent will just encourage kids to curse even more. When cursing has no power to hurt or elicit a response, children will find other more pleasant means to communicate. And that improved way to interacting means everyone enjoys each other much more.

Original story by Catherine Pearlman for Pearlman is the author of Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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