Planned Ignoring

Planned Ignoring of inappropriate behaviors can be an effective method for reducing behaviors that primarily function to gain the attention of the adult.  Using planned ignoring is challenging for most adults. When using planned ignoring,  do not provide attention for the inappropriate behavior.  Do not mention the fact that the person is misbehaving or doing the wrong thing.  Simply guide him/her back to the correct thing to do.  If the child is supposed to be working, guide them back to the work or task at hand.  Point to the visual cues which show him/her what to do.  Have him/her complete the task.   Do not mention the behavior. To ignore a behavior means that you do not give any verbal attention, do not communicate with other adults during the behavior, do not give any eye contact or body language attention (ex. disapproving look) to the child at the time of the behavior.  When you use this method, be ready for the extinction burst or increase in intensity of the individual’s behavior at first.  (This is typical.)

Planned Ignoring Link #1

Planned Ignoring Link #2


Antiseptic Bouncing is a technique is used to prevent behavior from escalating.  Using this approach, the individual is removed from a situation in a nonpunitive manner before a situation results in an inappropriate behavior response.

Bouncing Link #1

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Involving the Child in the Activity

Making the child part of the activity can, at times, reduce inappropriate  behaviors.  Try to find a way to make the activity “doable” for the child and identify a section of the activity they can be successful at doing.  This may mean planning the activity long before it actually takes place or creating a mock trial of an activity in which the stress of having it done perfectly is removed from the adult (ex. bake cookies for no reason, fold laundry on a non-laundry day, make lemonade outside, etc.) Include visual supports to help with understanding.

Involving the Child Link #1

Involving the Child Link #2

Creating Routines

According to Piaget, a child’s sense of knowing comes from schemes or mental structures. Initially, schemes are simple but over time they build upon each other and become more complex. In order for schemes to mean anything to the child, they must be balanced.  Consistent structured routines will provide the child with the exposure and practice in the area of knowing how to use the item.  The more times he/she is presented with a situation, the more experience he/she will gain and the better they will be at correctly performing that skill.  Additionally, with the adult “setting the stage” with structured, consistent routines, the child will begin to understand that he/she has the ability to make things happen in their environment. The child begins to expect and count on certain things happening, which can increase better behavior.

Creating Routines Link #1

Creating Routines Link #2

Giving Choices

Giving choices can help improve behaviors since children can have input in their lives.

Giving Choices Link #1

Giving Choices Link #2

Positive Supports

Positive Behavior Supports You Can Try at Home or School…

  • eliminate extra language when giving directions
  • eliminate sarcasm and figures of speech
  • use visual cues and visual prompts for your child to help them understand and remember
  • provide your child with a predictable schedule of evening and weekend events
  • be consistent with expectations
  • “show” your child what you want them to do
  • provide your child with a sensory diet of appropriate sensory input on a regular basis
  • create a place in your home with blank space where your child can go to when overstimulated
  • talk with an Occupational Therapist about addressing possible sensory needs of your child which may be affecting his/her behavior
  • clearly indicate to your child when an activity is about to end and when a new activity will begin (try giving him/her a 2-minute warning “ ___is almost done.”)
  • use a visual or picture schedule or a hand written schedule (if the child is reading) to show your child what will occur that evening and in what order–use it with him or her
  • provide reinforcement for positive behaviors only, try not to verbally address inappropriate behaviors as verbally addressing them may result in the behavior occurring more and more
  • help your child organize him/herself with a variety of bins, boxes and storage organizers which are labeled with pictures or words
  • inform your child about changes in his/her environment or schedule before the changes occur
  • learn all you can about functional behavior assessment, planned ignoring, reinforcement, blocking and implementing an effective behavior plan

Intervention Ideas

First, try to figure out why your child is showing the behavior in question.  That is called “finding the function” of the behavior.  After you have identified the function or at least have a good idea of what you think the function of the behavior may be, then it will then be time to come up with some solutions to address the behavior.  Depending on the function of the behavior, your response will be different.

For example, if your child’s behavior is maintained by gaining attention for the behavior, you and your family will have to stop providing attention for that inappropriate behavior.  Then start planning to purposefully provide attention for appropriate behavior.  Another example might be if your child is using a behavior because he or she wants to escape a task, you and your family may have to figure out a way to make the task easier (break it down) and provide him/her with a break (escape) before he/she takes it upon himself/herself  to take the break.  You can always add on more time or work gradually.  For sensory maintained behaviors, talk with an Occupational Therapist to see if they have some ideas for you.  If not, you can provide the input the child needs on a regular basis throughout the day.  If your child’s function is determined to be their access to a tangible item that they want, you and your family can work with your child to teach them to request the item in an appropriate manner opposite from the inappropriate way of behaving.

Each of these suggestions is only one of many possible intervention solutions for a Behavior Intervention Plan.  Please know that this is only a small portion of what there is to know regarding interventions. With any Behavior Intervention Plan, it will be important to inform other family members about the techniques you will be using, so that they are not inadvertently hurting the plan.

If the function is to Escape or Avoid a Situation, try one of these options:

  • Put in place Positive Behavior Supports
  • Provide a scheduled “escape” before he/she engages in the behavior
  • Decrease the difficulty of the activity, then gradually increase the difficulty
  • Teach him/her to request a break appropriately
  • Do not stop the activity because of the behavior

If the function is to get Attention from Others, try one of these options:

  • Put in place Positive Behavior Supports
  • Do not provide attention for inappropriate behavior (no eye contact, no verbal comments, neutral body language)
  • Assist him/her into a safe situation without verbal comments
  • Provide an over abundance of attention on a scheduled basis for appropriate behavior and reward for appropriate behavior

If the function is to Gain Access to a Tangible Item, try one of these options:

  • Put in place Positive Behavior Supports
  • Teach an appropriate way to ask for the item or activity
  • Teach him/her to “wait” using a wait card, timer, or first-then board
  • Use visual supports to show him/her when he or she will get the item or activity or to show the item is no longer available

If the function is Sensory Input Gained from Behavior, try one of these options:

  • Put in place Positive Behavior Supports
  • Talk with an Occupational Therapist
  • Provide appropriate sensory input before he/she needs it or provide it on a regular basis
  • Provide an alternate behavior that may give him/her the same type of sensory input