Planned Ignoring

June 22, 2020
Posted 6.22.2020
This training was recently presented to our staff members, helping us to better understand and use the technique of planned ignoring. We’re thankful to this team for providing this session for us and to Kelsi  for writing up the following summary to share with our audience. Readers can learn about earlier training presentations on topics like this by browsing our site. Please reach out to the presenters for more information.

Presented by Kelsi Brown, BCBA, Megan Defiores, BCBA, Ashlie Symer, BCBA, Breanna Maggart, BCBA and Jessica Palmateer, BCBA.

Author: Kelsi Brown

PLANNED IGNORING is choosing to ignore a behavior to reduce the likelihood that the target

behavior will occur again in the future.

In order to identify if planned ignoring is right for the situation, ask yourself: WTF? (What’s the function?)

There are 4 FUNCTIONS of behavior.

  1. Tangible
  2. Escape/avoidance
  3. Attention
  4. Sensory/automatic

TANGIBLE refers to engaging in behavior that leads to obtaining a tangible item or access to

an activity.

ESCAPE is all about engaging in behavior that leads to stopping or avoiding situations and/or conditions.

SENSORY means engaging in behavior that in itself is reinforcing/internally pleasing in some way.

ATTENTION indicates engaging in behavior that obtains some form of attention from another



Here, social reinforcers are removed for a brief period of time, contingent on the occurrence of an inappropriate behavior.  Planned ignoring assumes that ALL sources of positive reinforcement can be eliminated.


Planned ignoring is an active process. We are NOT ignoring the child.  We are ignoring the BEHAVIOR.

We want to use the following techniques:

  • Help
  • Prompt
  • Wait

HELP is checking in with your child when he/she is showing precursor behaviors and getting the behavior under control before it gets worse.

PROMPT is encouraging and directing incompatible behaviors or those that interrupt a maladaptive behavior from occurring (i.e. they can’t happen at the same time).

WAIT is thinking “Why Am I Talking?”  Watch for signs that your child is deescalating or calming down.  Check in, try to use HELP.  If the escalate again – WAIT and repeat.

Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)Learning at Home Success