Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Extinction: An Effective Treatment for Tantrums

Tantrums in young children can be a serious behavioral problem for parents if not addressed properly. One of the best methods to stop a child from throwing tantrums is the process of extinction. Many parents find it difficult to ignore a child's pleas, screams, crying and fits during a tantrum but by giving a child attention when he or she throws a tantrum, parents actually reinforce the child's tantrum throwing behavior, making it more likely for the child to continue to throw a tantrum in the future. When a child throws a tantrum, the best action for a parent is negative punishment, meaning that the parent withdraws attention, affection, or whatever else could be viewed as a reward for the child's behavior. This will decrease the likelihood of a child throwing a tantrum in the future. The more times a child learns that he or she will not receive attention, affection, food, or whatever stimulus they may find rewarding, the more likely the tantrum behavior will result in extinction. In this episode of Supernanny, a method called "off the hip technique" is used as a negative punishment for a child with an out-of-control tantrum throwing behavior.


  1. I think extincition is the best way for a child to stop acting up. I babysit and I'm also going to be an elementary school teacher. I've seen plenty of teachers and parents giving into their children and getting mad and over all, giving the child more attention. The best way for a child to improve their behavior is to ignore them when they are having a tantrum.

  2. I think you made some very interesting points. I believe with the things you said, the best way is to not give in and to ignore the child's behavior. It is amazing how these things work.

  3. Until reading this book, I've never heard of the term extinction in regards to psychology. I myself am guilty of feeding into my daughters temper tantrums or trying to calm them down with whatever bribe possible, especially if they are acting out in public. Luckily, my children's temper tantrums aren't that frequent, but I do plan on trying this technique the next time a tantrum arises. It's simply amazing how something so simple can make a tantrum go away. It does make sense though. Kids feed off of attention, and kids know that if they throw a temper tantrum, they will get attention. So indeed, the best way to handle the situation is to ignore it.