Planned Ignoring, Planned teaching, & Planned Praise

May 18th, 2016
Posted in Adolescents, Children, Families

Planned teaching, ignoring and praise are effective strategies for reducing unwanted behaviors and increasing desired behaviors. In addition, caregivers will enjoy less heated moments where both child and adult loses their temper, and increase enjoyable moments between adult and child.

Planned teaching is when a caregiver intentionally prepares or anticipates a time to teach the child expected and appropriate behaviors. Planned teaching is based on understanding that we MUST expect our child will need to hear and practice a new lesson or skill several times as they develop before it is understanding they can carry with them independently. Behaviors that are appropriate to plan to teach a preschool-age child are: how to ask for an item appropriately, how to express frustration or sadness, how to gain attention of adult when they have a want or need. Planned teaching is most effective when practiced at times when the behavior is not required, for example teaching while driving somewhere in the car, or while eating a snack. For example, if a caregiver is planning to teach a child how to ask for help appropriately, the caregiver could invite the child to “play pretend” and describe a situation. The adult should encourage the child to practice how to ask for help appropriately. Then, when the situation requiring the behavior occurs, the child has some understanding of what is expected, and the caregiver can remind the child of the expected behavior.

Planned ignoring is effective for reducing those annoying, but developmentally expected behaviors of children. Planned ignoring is like using a fire extinguisher on the annoying behavior when it is a small flame. Planned ignoring can extinguish the behavior before it becomes a raging fire. Planned ignoring is just as it sounds. By ignoring specific behaviors that are unwanted (and do not put child or others’ safety at risk), a caregiver is communicating to the child, “This is not worth my attention.” Behaviors that should be ignored in preschool-age children are: whining, growling, yelling, arguing, stomping. As mentioned before, these behaviors are EXPECTED junk behavior for preschool-age children. Instead of becoming angry at the child because you have told them a hundred times not to whine, a caregiver must be mentally prepared to expect and accept these behaviors as part of the child’s learning process of communicating wants and needs. A caregiver should not respond to these behaviors with anger and shaming because these communicate to the child they are bad. In reality, these are actually typical developmental behaviors (yes, they are very annoying!) for a child in the process of learning emotional control. It is more beneficial for the child’s self-esteem and self-control for a caregiver not to react. The child is engaging the adult for the purpose of a reaction (help, attention, avoid activity), but in an inappropriate manner. By ignoring the child’s attempt, it is communicated to the child that this is not how to engage the adult and obtain the help, attention, item they desire.

To be most effective, planned ignoring MUST be used together with planned teaching and planned praise. Using planned ignoring alone will bring limited results in reducing negative behavior.

Planned praise is looking for opportunities to “catch” your child making a good choice, showing kindness, and engaging in positive social skills. If your child often growls when they are mad, you will be most effective in reducing this behavior by teaching your child how to express their anger appropriately during a planned teaching time, ignoring the growling, and praising your child in times when he or she does not growl when they are mad. Rather than “Good job,” planned praise should be specific to what the child has done that is expected and worthy of the praise. For example, “I see how you are using nice words Joe! Great job using nice words!”

Posted in: Adolescents, Children, Families