Children’s Behavior And Extinction Procedure


ABA therapy is a practice based on the principles of psychology to identify adverse conduct. The therapy process is conducted by specially trained professionals and aims to eradicate negative conduct. ABA therapy focuses on behavioral changes that are related to social skills, communication, and learning. The extinction procedure is applied in therapy, but it is essential to use it correctly to obtain positive outcomes. Therefore, it is crucial to establish procedures that contribute to the disappearance of negative behavior.

The Behavior

A child’s crying is a tool for expressing the child’s wants and needs and is also an instrument for communicating with parents and the world around them. Each new occasion is followed by an attempt to develop some standard model of communication and signaling between child and mother. It is a natural way to build relationships with adults and the rest of the world, learn how to manage events, to establish and achieve goals to satisfy their needs (Dymond, 2019). At the same time, from an early age, a child finds that neighbors can be controlled, for example, by crying and screaming. If such actions find a response, the kid produces the capacity to manipulate others to avoid trouble and achieve the desired goals (Dymond, 2019). Moreover, they produce this trait unconsciously, perceiving it as normal behavior in their relationships with people. During a tantrum, the child screams, cries and contemplates the effect it produces on those around them, contemplating its future actions. If at such a moment, his desire is satisfied, the kid will understand that it is an effective way to obtain the desired goal.

The Antecedent Behavior

The child who lives next door uses screaming and tantrums to achieve personal desires. For instance, when the kid wanted the parents to turn on the radio in the car, this child started screaming without any reason for it. Significantly, this behavior is constantly repeated when the child wants an extra serving of ice cream or a new toy. Notably, the parents first satisfy the kid’s needs to keep the child calm. Accordingly, the infant decided that this way of manipulation provided advantages over adults (Dymond, 2019). Then the parents decided that it was necessary to build a dialogue with the child to explain the rationality of such refusal. This led to more frequent tantrums, especially in crowded places. Currently, in the parking lot or while riding in the car, the kid uses this method to ensure that the parents follow the child’s wishes.

The Consequences of Behavior

During the parking situation, the parents did turn on the music to keep the child calm. It was because they felt ashamed in front of the neighbors for the child’s negative conduct. At the same time, the kid was in labor to force a change of radio stations with the crying. If parents continue to satisfy the child’s tantrums, they may later transform into a life strategy (Dymond, 2019). In this way, a child, becoming an adult, will solve problems using pressure and manipulation.

Positive and Negative Contingency Reinforcements

It is fundamental to note that one form of using extinction with behavior is maintenance with positive reinforcement. When a child attempts to attract parents’ attention by crying or transitioning into a prolonged tantrum, parents immediately reassure the kid. That is, the child senses concentration, and a series of such actions will reinforce the negative behavior to obtain the desired behavior (Roquet & Monfils, 2018). When this situation develops, the child needs the parent’s response to the crying. Accordingly, positive reinforcement from parents will allow the person to feel confident in the chosen strategy. In order to solve this difficulty, parents need to eliminate reactions to the child’s actions (Roquet & Monfils, 2018). In this way, the child will realize that there is no positive reinforcement and become complacent.

During a child’s tantrums, parents can use a procedure supported by negative reinforcement. A kid may throw a tantrum between eating healthy foods and wanting a serving of ice cream. Frequently, parents make the mistake of trying to punish the child and make him read a book instead of eating. In fact, this strategy does not work because the child can avoid consuming food even because of the punishment. In order to use negative reinforcement, it is essential to permit the child to cry (Roquet & Monfils, 2018). Depending on the situation, parents must insist that the child eat a wholesome meal or say that music in the car is superfluous now. Indeed, such tantrums at first will be really loud and long, but later, the kid becomes complacent. This is because the child will understand that there are no positive reactions from parents, which would reinforce the negative behavior (Roquet & Monfils, 2018). Consequently, the kid will gradually stop using yelling as a means of achieving the desired effect.

Reinforcement of Unwanted Behavior

It is significant to mention that an intensification of negative behavior can often be observed after the extinction procedure has been performed. This reaction of the kid is called a flash of extinction and frequently leads to the termination of the procedure. Thus, if people observe that the child continues to scream more often and louder, they understand that the procedure is not producing the desired effect. Accordingly, this causes the method to be applied incorrectly and again demonstrates to the infant the effectiveness of the manipulation (Roquet & Monfils, 2018). As a consequence, the kid’s negative conduct will only aggravate.

It is valuable for the person who uses the extinction method to know the child’s potential reaction and the methodology of the procedure. Therefore, it is essential to maintain consistency and continue the process, considering the kid’s response. The adverse results of improperly performing the procedure are an escalation and intensity of negative behavior (Roquet & Monfils, 2018). This is explained by the fact that the child has already understood that it is possible to interrupt the nurturing process. At the same time, the individual conducting the procedure feels its ineffectiveness and does not continue attempts to change conduct.

One other point related to the lack of knowledge about extinction procedures is the slow effect of the results. Extinction procedures can also disappoint parents and guardians because the decline in negative behavior or, in other words, change in conduct can be delayed (Roquet & Monfils, 2018). Sometimes people expect quick outcomes and positive behavior shifts. In fact, the timing of the procedure depends on individual factors and the child’s conduct. Ignoring these specific features leads to an interruption of the procedure. Accordingly, the kid feels victorious and continues to manipulate.

The Effective Methods

In order to successfully introduce the extinction procedure it is essential to identify the negative behavior. Thus, one should first apply the technique of researching the reasons for the behavior change and the intensity and duration of the conduct. For an effective intervention, a plan should be made for the specific situation (Hughes et al., 2020). For instance, if a kid uses yelling to attract attention or to achieve desired behavior, it is important to ignore this manipulation. The extinction technique needs to be combined with additional training (Hughes et al., 2020). In order to provide not only the termination of adverse conduct but also a demonstration of a model of positive change. Accordingly, installing such techniques will allow reacting and correcting extinction according to concrete manifestations of the kid’s conduct.

The technique of differentiated attention or graded reinforcement can be applied to reduce the child’s adverse conduct. According to this, addressing and encouraging the kid only during positive behavior is essential (Hughes et al., 2020). At the same time, parents need to decrease the reaction to a negative reason to avoid undermining it in this way. This will assist the child in developing a new model of conduct, where the permissible limit of behavior will be clearly indicated.


Hence, operant extinction procedures are successful only if correctly applied. Consequently, it is essential to consider the kid’s personal characteristics and the specific situation and to develop a therapy plan based on this. It is crucial to mention that parents need to avoid providing positive reinforcement for the negative behavior of the child. This is because such actions lead to a deterioration of conduct and a continuation of manipulation. Parents or professionals should only respond to negative behavior if there is a risk of harm to the kid.


Dymond, S. (2019). Overcoming avoidance in anxiety disorders: The contributions of Pavlovian and operant avoidance extinction methods. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 98, 61-70.

Hughes, S., Mattavelli, S., Hussey, I., & De Houwer, J. (2020). The influence of extinction and counterconditioning procedures on operant evaluative conditioning and intersecting regularity effects. Royal Society Open Science, 7(10), 192085.

Roquet, R. F., & Monfils, M. H. (2018). Does exercise augment operant and Pavlovian extinction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 96, 73-93.