Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Planned Ignoring

I took two classes in behavior modification in college. Two. Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence. See? :)

One of the strategies is Planned Ignoring. Sounds simple. You just ignore it. If you have ever done much work in behavior modification you will know, however, that typically any behavior you opt to modify will escalate when you start to work on it (since, hey this used to work and now it doesn't so I should just turn the volume up) AND ignoring is not easy.

Planned ignoring is kind of like time out, but you can do it anywhere and the kids is only isolated during the negative behavior in that you aren't pay attention to him or her then. And people may hate you. You can do it when a kiddo asks (and asks, and asks for something at the store). Answer once and ignore ever after, but they will get louder and more annoying and you can not give in and answer or you just taught the little munchkin, "If I ask a whole bunch of times and keep getting more annoying then I get my reward (even if it is a 'no,' since half the point was just the attention)." So if you go for planned ignoring be ready for loud. But then after a few (or a lot depending on how ingrained that behavior is) you will have many more quiet trips in your future.

May I present an example? Well it's my blog and I will if I want to.

Yesterday I went to the grocery. I've moved my trips to the afternoon because then we don't have to deal with 'The McDonald's Question' because we've already eaten lunch that way. Yesterday, however, I was still recovering from the plague really bad cold I had, so we went earlier in the day (less crowded and my munchkins tend to do better in the morning).

One of my three really pushed the limits the whole trip, but in an effort to move things along, I mostly let it go. Nothing had been horrid, just not the behavior I expect in a store. We did make a purchase at 'Make it Donald's.' (Thanks Nate for the new name, by the way!) Typically this behavior would have kept her off the burger list, but I was trying to keep things on an even keel. I never threatened to take it away, so I wasn't breaking the cardinal rule of discipline (Never make a threat you won't follow through on). When we got home, a certain child continued to be difficult. And refused to change her tune when I prompted it. So you know what, she didn't get her Make it Donald's.

And she was mad: scream the whole way through our lunch mad. I told her once that when she calmed down she was welcome to a normal peanut butter sandwich lunch and then...I ignored her as she screamed in the middle of the kitchen. I stepped around her to get ketchup. I chatted with the other two about their meals and their days. We finished our lunch. I tucked the two with burger filled tummies in bed. I made a peanut butter sandwich (around her) and left it on the table. The whole time she screamed. She got so tired she sat down. Then she decided that standing again would gain her more attention. She was wrong. I went upstairs. I ignored her. Eventually she went and ate lunch. I ignored that too.

When she was finished, I told her she could tuck herself in, since she was so late getting to rest. When she got mad about that, I told her if she screamed I would let her nap on the wood floor (so as not to disturb her nearby resting siblings) and then I walked away. She started to fuss, but soon noticed I wasn't there.

There are plenty of behaviors we can't ignore--safety and other people's sanity depend on us stepping in--but it is a nice (if loud) tool to have in your toolbox. Plus sometimes it even gets so absurd it is kind of comical, so you aren't even mad about the behavior anymore.


rocketmommy said...

I so feel your pain on this one. Luckily it's not too often, but Izzy likes to choose THE most innoportune time to throw these little 'let's see if Mommy really can ignore me' fits. Usually when people are over or we're in the middle of a store. I agree though, sometimes the lengths they'll go to to get the attention make it pretty hard not to crack a smile. Way to stick to your guns. I think you did great! =)

Jessica @ One Shiny Star said...

I realize my daughter isn't old enough to really need "disciplined", since she's only 6 months old, but I have noticed that she already knows how to work the system. If I'm in the room, or she can see me, or even hear me, she will fuss and fuss until the cows come home. But, as soon as I am out of earshot she is perfectly content to play with her toys.

When I know that she is just fussing to fuss (and not because she actually needs something) I will let her fuss for a few minutes until she realizes I'm doing something and she gives up and goes back to her toys.