The 411 on Junk Behavior

behavior children parenting Feb 21, 2019

Have you ever heard of junk behavior?! 

If you haven't, I'm CERTAIN you know exactly what it is and I'm CERTAIN that you have most definitely seen it before. Shoot, you even maybe thinking that your kid probably has a few junk behaviors up his sleeve.

You're not alone!

Lots of kids (and I hate to admit it but, even adults) engage in what we behavior analysts like to call "junk behavior."

Junk behaviors are those annoying and downright irritating behaviors that are minor in nature. Some examples that you have probably seen in your day-to-day life are whining, pouting, baby talk, arguing, some crying, a kid sticking his tongue out at you, and flopping (or falling) to the ground. Junk behaviors are MINOR misbehaviors, they are not dangerous or harmful to a person or property like aggression or tantrums that involve throwing of objects. 

I think you know what I'm talking about. Junk behaviors are really just those annoying behaviors that get on our last darn nerves. 

 So why do children engage in junk behaviors?

It's pretty simple. Children engage in junk behaviors usually to get some attention or something else they want...

Like when your child wants that piece of candy and you say "no" because dinner is in five minutes. Here come the water works and pouting. 

That's junk behavior. 

How do we get those pesky junk behaviors to stop?

Advice #1

My first and most important piece of advice is to QUIT GIVING IN when our kids do those behaviors.

Your child asks to play on your phone. You say no. Your child whines and pouts, and you argue back-and-forth about the reasons why you're not giving up your phone. Your child continues the whining and then throws in a mini tantrum. What are you going to do in this moment? 

Instead of succumbing to your five year-olds wishes, HOLD YOUR GROUND!

Our children need to learn that when we say "no" or "not right now," we mean it! We mean what we say and we say what we mean.

I know that you're probably thinking that holding your ground is HARD, and it definitely can be, but if we want our children to STOP some of these junk behaviors, that is exactly what we need to do. There's a lot more that I can say about holding your ground and how your children will respond to that; I'll save that for another blog post. Just know that you need to keep to your word or the junk behavior will continue.


Advice #2

My second piece of advice is to increase the amount of praise statements you deliver to your child for appropriate and desirable behaviors BEFORE the undesirable behaviors pop up. This is EASY advice to take in and one that can PAY OFF before junk behaviors lift their nasty heads into our lives. 

The more we praise our children for those positive, desirable behaviors, the less likely we are to see unwanted, undesirable behaviors.  

Advice #3

The third piece of advice is similar to the first: don't provide any attention to the junk behavior when it does happen.

Maybe your child sticks her tongue out at you because you said no ice cream for lunch. Instead of reprimanding your child for it, just leave it be. When you comment on the behavior by saying, "that's not nice" or "stop that," you are partly giving your child exactly what she wants, and you may be increasing the likelihood that she will do it again in the future. 

I know it's tough to not address the junk behavior. Read the last tip below to learn about what you SHOULD do following junk behavior. 


Advice #4

My last piece of advice to get rid of junk behaviors is to praise your child for doing something appropriate once they have STOPPED engaging in that junk behavior.

With tip #3, we talked about not providing attention to any junk behaviors, but you should most definitely provide praise once the junk behavior has stopped and your child is behaving appropriately. The reason why we do this is because we are teaching our children that 1) they will NOT get what they want (whether it's attention, your phone, or that ice cream for lunch) by engaging in those junk behaviors and 2) they will get GOOD things like praise when they behave appropriately. 

When we provide praise for appropriate and desirable behavior, we are teaching our children IN THE MOMENT that they get good things, like praise, when they are being appropriate. 

I encourage you to practice these tips in your daily life and to visit these tips often if you need a refresher! 


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