Our Website is Currently Being Redesigned.

Please check back soon!

Extinction Strategies to Use at Home

By Erin Taylor, BCaBA, LaBA

Parenting can be both rewarding and challenging, especially when trying to address challenging behaviors in children. Using behavior analytic principles can be a valuable tool for parents to create a positive and supportive environment at home. Let’s explore some extinction strategies, along with essential dos and don’ts, tips for managing frustration, and when to seek guidance from your child’s BCBA.

What is Extinction?

Extinction is an ABA principle that involves withholding reinforcement for a previously reinforced behavior, ultimately leading to a reduction or elimination of that behavior. In simpler terms, it’s about not giving in to unwanted behaviors to encourage more functional behaviors.

Here are some dos and don’ts:

Do: Be consistent! Consistency is key when implementing extinction. Make sure all caregivers are on the same page and apply the strategy consistently across various situations.

Do: Reinforce positive alternatives! Instead of focusing solely on eliminating unwanted behaviors, actively reinforce positive alternatives. Praise and reward your child for using appropriate behaviors to meet their needs!

Don’t: “Give in” to tantrums. If your child exhibits challenging behavior for attention or a desired item, resist the urge to give in. Providing attention or the desired item reinforces the behavior, making it more likely to happen again.

Do: Provide choices! Choices provide a sense of control for your child when they may perceive they don’t have control of much in a situation. It could be something as simple as, “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the black shirt?”

Don’t: Escalate the situation. Stay calm and composed. Escalating the situation can inadvertently reinforce the challenging behavior. Model the behavior you want to see in your child.

Tips for Parent Frustration:

If you find yourself getting frustrated, it’s okay to take a break; in fact, it’s encouraged. Step away, collect your thoughts, and return to the situation with a clear head. Parenting is demanding, and self-care is crucial. Make sure to prioritize your well-being, whether it’s through exercise, hobbies, or simply taking some time for yourself to do something you enjoy.

When should you ask for help?

If challenging behaviors persist despite consistent efforts, it may be time to consult with your child’s BCBA. They can assess the situation, provide additional strategies, and adjust the intervention plan accordingly. If you’re unsure about correctly implementing extinction or other ABA strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance. Your child’s BCBA is there to support and guide you through the process.