Monday, June 27, 2016

Extinction of Bedtime Tantrums in Young Children

Bedtime tantrums are a common occurrence faced by many parents who are training their children to go to bed at night. I was surprised to find that parents are actually reinforcing this behavior. Reinforcement happens when a child throws a tantrum and gets out of bed, the parents now have to pay attention to this child. My first thought would be to leave the child in their room, not paying any attention at all to their tantrum, and eventually they will fall asleep. This would be using the process of extinction. And research has shown that this is a highly effective procedure, "results revealed that children who underwent the extinction procedure experienced considerably greater improvement in their sleep patterns than the children in the other two conditions" (321). Extinction, however, suffers drawback because many parents find it impossible to ignore their children's pleas for attention. To help ease parents into this procedure, steps have been created. For example, waiting a set amount of time before going in to check on the child, and then to only comfort the child for about 15 seconds. This method has been very effective in helping both parents and children get a good night's sleep.

Powell, Russel, P. Lynne Honey, and Diane Symbaluk. Introduction to Learning and Behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2013. Print.

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