Short phrases to whisper to yourself
to reduce “junk” behavior in your child
Last month, we focused on the importance of giving your child positive attention or “catching them being good.” This month we add the other side of the positive discipline coin, a technique called “planned ignoring.”
Here’s an important principle of behavior to know: ALL behavior is a form of communication and serves a function (to get something or get out of something). There are 4 functions of behavior, and you can easily remember them with this simple acronym: SEAT...
S-sensory (taps the pleasure zone in the brain)
E-escape (trying to escape or avoid something)
A-attention (when a child is trying to get your attention or that of his/her peers)
T-tangible (can be a toy/object or power/control).
If you can determine the function or purpose of behavior, you can pick a discipline strategy to teach your child the appropriate way to get his/her needs met.
Back to “planned ignoring.”
Planned ignoring is removing attention when a child when she’s misbehaving. It means not looking at her and not talking to her while she behaves that way. Planned ignoring works best for annoying but harmless behavior designed to get your attention. These behaviors may include whining, pouting, shouting, being overly silly, even potty talk.
When your child is engaging in “junk” behavior, whisper to yourself: “Ignore, ignore, ignore. Don’t feed this behavior with my attention.”
Planning ignoring (of negative behavior) should be paired with positive attention (for positive behavior) to shape your child’s behavior. Dangerous or damaging behavior should not be ignored, but addressed with another discipline tool such as physical removal from the environment or natural consequences. Here are two excellent resources to guide you:
A word to the wise. As you begin to ignore behavior your child has been relying on to get your attention (even your negative attention) that behavior can get worse before it gets better. This tendency is known as extinction bursts. “Extinction bursts are a sudden, expected increase in behavior, and occur often when extinction procedures are first implemented. During an extinction burst, a child may respond emotionally; that is, they may increase both the rates and intensity of problem behavior.” If you find yourself getting triggered and tempted to respond, whisper to yourself: “I’ve got this. I can stay calm no matter what.”