Planned Ignoring

158/365 days of blogging.

This is a paper I wrote in college that I ran across today.  In light of being a daycare provide/preschool teacher off and on for the last 30 years, thought I would pass my research along.  🙂

Why doesn’t she hear me?  Maybe I’ll do it louder.  Nope, she still doesn’t notice me.  Maybe I’ll stomp my feet.  Nope, she still didn’t turn around…Oh just forget it.

Temper tantrums are a common behavioral problem exhibited by many young children.  We’ve all seen it before.  children stomp their feet, kick their legs, scream, say things to hurt out feelings.  Most of the time, they are not behaving like this just to be mean, but instead to get attention, as long as someone notices them.

Except for extreme behavioral problems, which usually has underlying circumstances, the most effective form of discipline in dealing with this behavior is called planned ignoring.  It is defined as the practice of a parent or teacher not tuning into a behavior designed to “get your attention.”  A child exhibiting these types of behaviors quickly tires when no one appears to notice.

In come cases a child will run through many behaviors discarding one and attempting another to get the desired result – attention.  When attention is withheld, the child may eventually give up and settle down.

A parent or teacher can control some situations, in some cases preventing them before they even happen.

Some of the things I have found, in my years of teaching to be very helpful are;

  • Nonverbal signs.  Parents as well as teachers are masters at creating signals that give a message of disapproval to a child.  These are in the form of stares, frowns, finger snapping, body gestures, and hand gestures.  Nonverbal cues tell a child, “I know what you are doing and it is unacceptable.”
  • Proximity control is simply moving closer to a child who appears to be having trouble controlling themselves.  In this situation the adult becomes a source of strength and protection to the child.  Teachers will sit “problem” children close to themselves;  likewise parents strategically place themselves at the dinner table between two siblings that fight.
  • Interest boosting.  When a child’s interest in an activity begins to wane and the chance for this type of behavior increases, I have found if I go to them and act interested in what they are doing on the project that the child will show renewed interest.
  • quiet time, quiet place.  When a child’s behavior reaches a point where verbal controls do not appear to be working, a parent or teacher may want to consider offering a quiet time in a quiet place.  Not a punishment time out, but rather non-punishment quite time alternative.  Designate one area of the room as a retreat in which to collect themselves away from the group.  When the behavior occurs, simply state, “It’s time to go to your quiet space.”

The most important thing to remember when attempting to control this type of behavior is to always treat the child with love and respect.  Set limits, and prepare to be constantly tested.

Make sure children understand what the rules are and why following them is important.  Be consistent in discipline – don’t allow one day what you would forbid the next.  Using a positive approach instead of a negative one, “Do this,” instead of  “Don’t do that.”

Above all, praise your children when behavior is good.  Children like to be told they are right as much as adults.

So that is it!  The paper I wrote when I was 30 years old.  Now that I have a few more years on me..LOL..I read this paper and I think, “Did I really believe that when I wrote it?”  I think I do believe it today but not all kids are going to respond to discipline in the same manner.  And I do think that a good spanking never hurt any child.  However mostly what I hear when I walk through Walmart is parents “screaming” obscenities at their children then smacking them for cussing.  Spanking kids and telling them “don’t hit.”  Telling them to do things, then allow their children to see the parent do the opposite.  How can parents expect our kids to display “wanted” behavior when all they see is “unwanted” behavior.

If parents would display behaviors that are pleasing and acceptable to the Lord, I believe our children would learn behavior that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.  The fact is that children learn what they live.  And they live what they learn.

We can only expect our children to grow up and become productive Christians in this world if we teach them to do so.


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