Extinguish Your Child’s bad Behavior
Extinction is a basic principle of behavior, and its purpose is to extinguish or put an end to inappropriate behaviors. Simply put, when a behavior is reinforced, it continues, so extinction eliminates the reinforcer and the behavior ends.
For example, your child could throw a tantrum when you are on the phone, when you’re speaking with others, or when you are not paying attention to him/her. In cases such as this one, the tantrum is being maintained and reinforced, because the child is receiving the social attention he or she craves as a result of throwing a tantrum or incessantly interrupting. This is where understanding extinction can help.
It’s not easy to ignore screams and fits, particularly when other adults are standing nearby, giving you a dirty look. You can be tempted to punish, interfere, or yield to the demands of the child just to avoid crying. Yet the extinction scheme is not working. There are two things you have to think about, being consistent, and being prepared. It gets worse before it can get better.
Here is an example: If your child cries at bedtime or naptime, as a parent you may get into the habit of going into the room and talking or reading them a book to your child until she falls asleep. By doing so, the parent is actually reinforcing the crying behavior. If the parent now chooses to implement an extinction strategy, the parent will not go into the room when the child cries. On the first night, the child may cry for 30 minutes before falling asleep. This may go on for a week, but by the end of the week, the intensity, duration, and frequency of the crying will decrease. In fact, after one or two weeks of consistency, the crying at bedtime should decrease and eventually stop altogether.
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