EXTINCTION BURST

The increase in frequency, duration or intensity of the unreinforced behaviour during extinction process is called extinction burst. That is, the frequency and severity of the child’s problem behaviours may substantially increase during the first days of the treatment.

For instance

 If a child’s tantrum is suddenly ignored by the mom, the child may initially increase her/his rate or volume of tantrum. The child’s increase in behaviors can be thought of as “trying harder” to get the mom’s attention. If the mom’s attention (reinforcement) is consistently withheld, then the child’s tantrum will gradually go away.  What many parents fail to understand is that even a spank or yelling is still attention and still helps to reinforce the tantrum.

There is an increase in the behaviour because the reinforcer(attention) that maintains the challenging behaviour is withdrawn so it is important for parents to identify the events, objects or situation that might interfere with the implementation of behavioural strategies knowing that the child’s challenging behaviour will not immediately conform to the new behaviour.

But sometimes parents might see the slow decrease or the increase in challenging behaviour as failure of the treatment and might not continue to implement it. So, you need to know the probability that the treatment will not result in the immediate elimination of challenging behaviour, you need to educate yourself on the expected slow decreases in the challenging behaviour and the possibility of an extinction burst.

However, it important to identify smaller successes that might be evident along the way rather than sympathizing with yourself on how difficult it is to manage a challenging behaviour.