One question that comes up all the time when I’m taking about how to teach before the peak and weather the storm is, “What do we do about giving a child our attention when they are demonstrating behaviors that are challenging?”.
I suspect…what you really want to know is…
“What do we do when some team members and experts suggest the strategy of planned ignoring and others say connect with the child”?
Who is right?!?!
Listen to my answer now…or read a bit more about the backstory for this episode…and then listen in for my thoughts.
Recently the question about ignoring vs. connecting came up again when I was working with ECE teams from Colorado who are strengthening their toolkit with strategies for promoting children’s social-emotional health and well-being. And while in this episode I speak generically about “ignoring bad behaviors“, my thoughts started with conversations I had with them around a strategy known as planned ignoring.
A strategy designed to decrease undesirable behaviors by ignoring them.
And before you dive into this episode, here’s a short explanation of why I’m bringing up the topic of ignoring .
Right out of the gate, with evidence or not, I struggle with the strategy of planned ignoring because it is a form of punishment (even tempered by some authors and researchers who say it is a form of mild punishment).
Quick side note…during another episode that will be out later in 2020 with Dr. Shauna Tominey, Laura Fish, and Alyssa Blask Campbell, we focus on the topic of punishment and rewards. For now, however, it’s important for me to state my concerns around the use of punishment because it is part of the context for this episode and my mindset.
Based upon what I know about humans, personal growth, and even systems change, I believe that we thrive when we focus on our strengths and trigger the positive emotional attractor. Humans also thrive when they grow and learn in the context of secure attachments with their caregivers (including teachers).
So that leaves me in a quandary when when early childhood teams pick (or are told to use) a strategy that is a form of punishment. Overall, I have three broad concerns with planned ignoring and its evidence-based. Read about these concerns on my blog.
- Lack of clarity
- Challenges with fidelity
- Missing evidence
Bottom line for me?
From what I’ve studied, I would say research from neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology, and the science of early childhood development, provide counter evidence to the use of ignoring, planned or otherwise.
Make sense? Ready for some solutions? Me too!
In this episode here’s what you’ll learn:
- Five reasons ignoring (broadly defined) is problematic
- Three solutions for what to do instead of ignoring
- Three take aways
- Links to tons of practical solutions (see show notes further down)
Click here to download a transcript for episode 38.
- One Myth about Challenging Behavior in ECE: This blog by Dr. Barb O’ Neill describes why you don’t need a fancy degree to work effectively with children who engage in “challenging behavior”.
- The Power of Showing Up: Drs. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson’s latest book discusses the importance of being there for children in order to promote optimal development.
- Teach Before the Peak of the Storm online course: This course, co-taught with Barb Avila of Synergy Autism Center, takes you through what to do when the sh*t hits the fan, including when the storm is brewing, the middle of the storm, and what to do afterwards. A certificate of completion is provided.
- Tiny Human, Big Emotions: From Alyssa Blask Campbell’s Seed & Sew website, get access to a free emotion coaching guide, check out podcasts about emotional regulation, and consider membership to the “village” which offers research-based tools and access to live workshops where you can ask questions and build a foundation for supporting your children’s emotional development
- A Brain Architect’s Guide For Reducing ECE Stressors: This infographic provides strategies for soothing the system, reducing to “restore”, and readying oneself.
- PreK Teach & Play Practice Point- Early Childhood Stressors: A list of common early childhood stressors that trigger arousal in children and/or can be reduced through classroom design or instruction.
- Challenging Behavior as Communication: This webpage details evidence-based practices for determining what a child’s behavior is communicating and what to do about it.
- Creating Compassionate Kids: The official website for Dr. Shauna Tominey.
- Episode 79- Co-Reg vs. Self-Reg With Thriving Littles– Podcast from Alyssa Blask Campbell on why we need to co-regulate to help children develop effective self-regulation skills.
- Lifelines that Help Children Get on Board: Blog from Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak that talks about how to throw children a “lifeline” when they are experiencing big emotions.
- Self-Regulation Toolkit: Designed to help you learn how to intentionally, mindfully, and concisely teach self-regulation across a variety of early childhood settings and routines.
- Superpowers Self-Assessment: This self-assessment is designed to help you dive deep into your own inner magic…and then to foster not only your own superpowers, but those of the children you serve, families you interact with, students you train, colleagues you work with, and community members you live and work alongside.
- The Power of Our Beliefs: A short excerpt from Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak’s Early Childhood Investigations Webinar on Inclusion that talks about why we have to first be clear on the power of our core values.
Related Pre-K Teach & Play Podcasts:
- Podcast 20: What Children Really Need: This PreK Teach & Play podcast offers clarity on wants versus needs that will help you to strengthen your relationship with children.
- Podcast 27- Seeing the Child Behind the Behavior: In this Pre-K Teach and Play podcast episode, Laura Fish and Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak share how early educators can broaden their perspective around the “causes” for challenging behavior. You will learn how to discover the “why” behind a child’s behavior.
- Podcast 29- Stop, Think, Act: Promoting Self-Regulation In Young Children: This Pre-K Teach and Play podcast episode tackles the importance of self-regulation, common myths or misperceptions about self-regulation, and why our job is critical in ensuring children’s success in school and in life.
- Podcast 37: Wait For Green Before You Go: In this Pre-K Teach and Play podcast episode, our two main jobs as teachers are explored- what to do when children are in the “green zone”, and what to do when they are not.
- Attending and Planned Ignoring: An instructional video from Dr. Alan Kazdin, Director of the Yale Parenting Center, that describes the strategy.
- Attention-seeking Misbehaviors: An excerpt from CHAMPs: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management that describes what it is and what to do about it.
- Functional Behavioral Assessment and Positive Interventions: What Parents Need to Know: From the OSEP IDEAs that Work Web site, this page describes the purpose of identifying the function of a behavior and how to choose appropriate strategies (including planned ignoring) to support the child.
- The Hidden Costs of Planned Ignoring: This blog by Dr. Mona Delahooke describes the unintended consequences of using this strategy inappropriately and what you can do instead.
P.S. In the spirit of Dr. Mona Delahooke’s comment on her blog, “The Hidden Costs of Planned Ignoring“, it isn’t my intention to tell parents or teams to discontinue with a behavior plan or treatment plan that is currently in place. It is also not my intention to suggest teams are trying to harm children if they use planned ignoring. This podcast is an invitation to consider, or even reconsider other evidence and perspectives when it comes to helping children learn self-regulation skills and to ultimately thrive in school and in life.