Behavior Support - Using Extinction at Home

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Extinction (ex TINC shun) means to ignore targeted problem behavior in order to decrease that behavior in the future. Only use extinction in the way that your behavior support provider tells you.

You Will Need

  • Support from others, especially if you start to get frustrated
  • A plan to follow through
  • To understand that it will get worse before it gets better. So, if letting it “get worse” is not OK at the moment, do not use extinction at that moment.

What to Do

  • If your child shows the targeted problem behavior, use extinction during that time.
  • Use extinction to help stop your child’s attention-seeking problem behaviors. This involves not saying anything or making eye contact with the child while the problem behavior is going on.
  • Use extinction when a child wants an object, unless he or she asks for it in an appropriate way.
  • Sometimes, the item your child wants is not available. After telling your child one time that he or she cannot have the wanted item, direct the child’s attention to another activity. Use extinction if there are problem behaviors.
  • Do not give your child anything when he or she is behaving badly. For example, do not give tissues to the child if he or she is crying. Wait until the child has calmed and the crying has stopped.
  • Do not make eye contact, facial expressions or comments to others in response to the child’s problem behavior.
  • Do not react to your child’s problem behavior by changing the way you behave, your tone of voice or the look on your face.

Behavior Support: Using Extinction at Home (PDF)

HH-IV-186 10/17 Copyright 2017, Nationwide Children’s Hospital