November 21, 2023


Pro Tips

Pro Tips: Planned Ignoring

Pro Tips provided by Claire Spangenthal, MA/SC, NCSP, BCBA, unit director at Summit Academy Enhanced.

There are a variety of strategies available to parents and caregivers to teach children appropriate behaviors. Planned ignoring is a strategy where a parent ignores an attention-seeking behavior their child is engaging in until they stop. Below are some tips for using planned ignoring and when it might be appropriate to use:

1. Consult with a professional

Before using planned ignoring, talk to your child’s teacher or a behavior consultant first to make sure it’s the right strategy for you. Planned ignoring can be difficult for parents to implement and should be used with caution. It should only be used for behaviors you can safely ignore, such as low-intensity tantrums. Planned ignoring should not be used if a child engages in self-injury or aggressive behaviors.

2. Introducing planned ignoring

Choose the attention-seeking behavior you want to change and make sure it’s one that you will be successful at ignoring. Next, determine the conditions in which you are going to ignore. For example, it may be easier to ignore behaviors at home rather than in public spaces like a grocery store.

When your child starts engaging in the attention-seeking behavior, start ignoring. You can give verbal reminders to your child such as, “When you’re ready,” “When you use your words,” or, “When you have a calm body then we can talk.” When your child has stopped engaging in the behavior, you can say something like, “I love that you have a calm body now. What would you like?”

3. Consider alternative strategies

Planned ignoring needs to be done reliably and consistently to work. If it seems too challenging to implement, there are other strategies parents can consider. These include reinforcing smaller behaviors while teaching the appropriate skill, reinforcing communication attempts, providing reassuring statements, redirection, or distraction. These strategies may want to be considered before moving on to planned ignoring. Any new strategies should be discussed with a child’s teacher or a behavior consultant beforehand.