Planned ignoring is when parents intentionally ignore certain behaviors from their children. It’s done to prevent attention-seeking behaviors. For instance, if a child throws tantrums when their mother is on the phone, planned ignoring may be employed. This technique tests whether the child’s tantrums are attention-seeking. By ignoring them, the child learns that their tantrums won’t work. This can be an effective intervention tool for the future.
Planned ignoring is a type of extinction procedure. Extinction stops rewarding previously rewarded behavior. It reduces inappropriate behaviors in children. But it is challenging to implement. Changing the way, you respond changes a child’s expectations suddenly. When implementing extinction procedures, it is important to remember the following:
- Be consistent with your planned ignoring
- Reinforce other behavior
- Get ready for extinction burst
There are five key elements to effective planned ignoring:
- Only ignore behaviors that students do for attention.
- Planned ignoring is never an appropriate strategy for behavior that is harmful to the student or others.
- Identify specific behaviors to ignore.
- Provide positive attention (see Using Behavior-specific Praise) for appropriate behavior.
- Do not give attention to the behavior. The behavior you ignore will get worse before it goes away.
What is an example of planned ignoring in the classroom?
As an example, you can ignore John if he blurts out in class, but as soon as he raises his hand you can respond with, “Thank you for raising your hand to get my attention!“
Effectively planned ignoring can help students unlearn problem behaviors that obtain attention and, when paired with positive reinforcement, teaches them more socially appropriate behaviors to interact with peers and adults.
What can I do instead of planned ignoring?
When faced with difficult behavior, instead of implementing planned ignoring, reinforcements, or consequences, consider using supportive listening, calming methods, and skill-building techniques.
But with a child with autism, more often than not, the challenging behaviors are not to get attention.
What may be happening:
- When the child yells because their routine has been interrupted, they are not looking for attention, they are likely protesting the disruption of a routine that is important to them.
- Or, when a high school student calls out inappropriately in class, it’s probably not to get a laugh, but it may relate to missed social cues and trouble generalizing learned social skills.
- Furthermore, when a child has a meltdown in the grocery store, it may be due to sensory overload, not because they want more attention.
Planned ignoring is effective when the behavior is driven by the desire for attention, which may be the case for some children with autism. However, if attention-seeking is not the motive, this strategy is not appropriate.
Is planned ignoring negative punishment?
One problem with negative punishment is that it works as long as the stimulus is consistently removed. However once the punishment stops, the undesired behavior will likely resume. Another drawback is while it can stop an undesired behavior, it doesn’t provide information on the desired action.
Additional Glossary Terms: