It’s Official, Your Kids Aren’t Actually Ignoring You – Science.

by | August 10, 2018

What if someone told you that your kids aren’t actually ignoring you?

‘Tommy, clean up your room before you head out’. ‘Tommy…’ you eye your wife, and both of you are staring at him, as he stares at his screen. he looks up for a brief moment, and then back down again. Everyone starts getting frustrated.

A scene most parents can relate to, the constant repeating yourself, and then repeating yourself again. It’s never-ending, and leave you feeling exasperated.

Neal Rojas, a professor at the University of California, who specializes and studies attention, claims it is a matter of salience – a complex process that brains decide how urgent the outside message is, and if it really needs our attention. He states that the ‘salience ratio’ needs to be on high alert if we want our children to pay attention to us. So maybe that quick burst of a shout is why it works and your kids aren’t actually ignoring you?

“If I tell my kids with my back turned to them while washing the dishes after dinner ‘Okay, time to wrap up that game,’ but I don’t engage them and watch for their response in situations like this, I might as well be talking to the cat,” Rojas says.

A new book named ‘Distracted’, by the author, Maggie Jackson weighs in on research from families who they observed. Jackson noted that a large portion of families, at 40% do not eat together, and spend very little time together as a family, as little as 16% of their waking day. Of that, when they are together, they are mostly just ignoring one another, and there is no meaningful engagement to hold each other’s attention.

Jackson notes that families today, are just distracted, they are busy, everyone is working or trying to get their next task completed. So family connections and interaction gets neglected, and further compounds the problem of being able to develop connections with one another. There are so many ways to distract each other, from social media and other outside influences, that not paying notice to one another isn’t even noticed. Parents who are strapped for time can give their children tablets to keep them occupied while they finish the household chores, or get dinner ready. So your kids aren’t actually ignoring you, they’re just distracted.



“Presence has become dramatically splintered because our devices are designed as insistent, intrusive systems of delivery, so any single object of our focus — an email, a text, a news alert, a child — competes with others every minute,” she says. “We experience overlapping, often conflicting commitments, and so have trouble choosing the nature and pace of our focus.”

She feels this will have much larger implications for future generations as the distraction becomes more culturally acceptable.

“Multitasking parents unintentionally are saying to their children, ‘You are secondary,’ ” Jackson says. “Meanwhile we’ve groomed our children to be half-there, to be present in shallow ways. Fully focused attention on others is a rarity in their world.”

Ways To Help Regroup and Refocus Your Family.

Be In The Moment

We cannot ask our children to pay attention to us, while we have our own noses stuck in the phone or paper. Switch off the electronics and be present. Show them that you are paying attention, and want them to do the same.

Clear and Set Boundaries

No electronics at the dinner table, no tv after a certain time, televisions out of the bedrooms. Once you have these boundaries in place, enforce them. Your kids aren’t going to listen if they can’t have a television in their room but can hear Saturday Night Live coming from yours.

Talk

So you’re sitting in the room together, watching television, and ignoring one another. This doesn’t improve life. Engage with your kids, find out what they did today, who their friends are, ask them about their favorite band. It may feel slightly awkward at first, but keep at it, you will build a connection soon, and it will feel natural. Make eye contact, say their name, engage them.

So after reading this do you feel like your kids aren’t actually ignoring you? Let us know in the comments below!

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Emma Williams

Associate Editor, USA | Contactable via emma@raisevegan.com

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