Training or Practicing Outside the Moment
Practicing outside the moment is exactly what it sounds like — you practice something in a quiet moment that exists outside the situation you’re training for.
Training precedes behavior and allows a child to practice before the scenario occurs. Redos (see “Instead Of” Tips), on the other hand, are a way for your child to try again. Both are ways to practice outside the moment. Think of training and redos like bookends: kiddos get training before and a chance to redo after.
Invest in your kids by practicing outside the moment
Invest in your kids by practicing outside the moment. When teens or adults start a new job, they go through training. Usually, this training is practiced outside the moment. Training is not introduced when an employee is melting down over not knowing how to use the computer system (although that can happen). Practicing outside the moment allows you to teach a child when his upstairs brain is activated, instead of waiting until he flips his lid. (Remember the upstairs and downstairs brain?)
I did lots of practicing outside the moment with my kiddos before we went somewhere. My funniest story using this tool is practicing to go to the library. My newbies had recently come home from Poland, so I had kiddos aged 12, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 1. Four of them had never been to a public library before, so we practiced at home. We pretended the bookshelves were the library. I showed them how to get a book, whisper, sit down at a table, and look at the book they had retrieved.
Our town had a small library with an unusual practice. When you got a book out, you replaced it with a ruler to mark your place in order to return it if you didn’t check it out. My kids loved this practice a little more than I realized. When we got to the library, they used all of the rulers to mark places and got a giant stack of books
An Underutilized Tool
You may have thought it was strange if you had never heard of practicing outside the moment. And now, you may be wondering why I am bringing it up again and devoting an entire series to this tool.
The idea of practicing outside the moment deserves to be repeated. It’s so underutilized and such a powerful tool.
Does it take time to practice? You better believe it! It’s definitely an investment. Do your kiddos always want to practice? Nope! But is it worth it? Yep. It’s my favorite parenting tool.
Just one word of caution: Practicing outside the moment must be done with a happy, playful spirit on your end. Otherwise, you won’t be able to achieve connection, which is a necessary component of this tool.
How Do You Do a Training Session?
Gather all the kiddos. Give simple instructions, and remember that training sessions can be short.
The first session I implemented focused on the kids obeying simple commands like “Come.” Because we were still working on English, I said it in Polish. If the child immediately walked across the room to me, I thanked him and said, “Good job.”
Then I moved to calling a child when he was in another room. If he came right away, I repeated the praise. If he didn’t, I went to him and told him to come. Then I required him to go back to where he came from, and I called again.
“Come the first time I call you.” I repeated this as many times as it took for the child to come the first time. I did not yell, cajole, whine, cry, or complain. I expected.
After the kids got the hang of coming, I instituted the “Guire Report,” an idea I gleaned from the book, Cheaper by the Dozen. I would simply stand in the kitchen and call out “Guires, report!” All of the children were expected to come down and line up and wait for instruction. Of course, some of the younger ones required assistance, but the older ones always helped. In a large family, this is such an important skill to have.
Some people think this sounds too militant, but it works so much better than yelling, running up and down the stairs searching for someone, or taking half an hour to round everyone up just to get out the door. Believe me — I tried. Before instituting the Guire Report, it was exhausting and nerve-racking to convince everyone to stop whatever activity they were doing and come.
With this approach, the parent retains the authority, and the child complies. There are no bad feelings on the part of the parent — only on the part of the child who does not comply. Often, the reprimand comes from their siblings. “Where were you? Mom called. We had to stand here and wait.”
The next step in obedience was to follow other simple commands. We played drill sergeant. The kids lined up, and I issued commands. “Do five jumping jacks.” “March in place.” “Go up the stairs and then come down.”
Of course, their favorite part was playing the drill sergeant themselves. I let each kiddo have a turn.
Tomorrow – Training With Sweets!