Behaviour Extinction a Parenting Strategy
(getting rid of the behaviours you don’t want, and increasing behaviours you do want) can be a great parenting strategy to use to change your child’s behaviour.
- Reward the behaviours you want to see**
- Praise and acknowledge all positive behaviour. Be specific. Tell exactly why you are praising. E.g. “You’re doing a really good job playing quietly” as opposed to “Good job buddy”
- Use different phrases to praise and encourage behaviour (see page 2 for ways to praise a child). Making it different keeps it interesting, sincere, and motivating.
- Use privileges to reward positive behaviour – extra T.V. time, later bedtime, trip to the park. Make it clear that the privilege is occurring to reward the positive behaviour. I.e. “You went to bed so well tonight, you can have a later bedtime tomorrow night”.
- Use tangible rewards to reinforce positive behaviour. This can be done through a behaviour modification program , or just in general. Tangible reinforcers are things like: candy, toys, stickers, tokens, or treats.
Rewarding the behaviours you want to see will ensure that those behaviours are repeated.
Ensuring Negative Behaviours are not rewarded
Once you have determined the function of the behaviour, and what maintains that behaviour for the child (through the ABC’s of behaviour) you can stop making that behaviour rewarding, or find alternative ways to help your child meet the need their behaviour is serving. Think about the function of the behaviour, and help your child to achieve that function in a productive way. Some common functions of behaviour are: gaining attention, escape or avoidance of a task or experience, feeling control, expressing emotions, transferring emotions to increase your understanding (i.e. making you feel how they feel), and alleviating anxiety.
It is also important to note, that often problematic behaviours can be a result of a lagging skill set, and our requests of a child exceed their skill level (i.e. a child who has poor self-control or low attention span being asked to sit quietly for an extended period of time will likely struggle). Consider your child’s skill strengths and deficits and plan accordingly so that your expectations are realistic or appropriate support to your expectations are provided.