The Softer Side of Child Training
and Cynthia Carrier
Excerpted from The Values-Driven Family: A Proactive Plan for Successful Biblical Parenting
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We have seen the rewards of positive conditioning as we
have gotten in the habit of having daily “training sessions” with our children. These can be as short as five
minutes or as long as 20 minutes. During training time, we practice the desired response for certain commands
that are associated with commonplace events and activities such as, line up, get coats and shoes, brush
your teeth, and sit quietly. We’ve also used this method to condition behaviors that may
need only occasional addressing, such as older siblings learning gentleness with a new baby or the children
putting coats and shoes away in their proper places.
We have fun training in things like cleaning up—the children get to dump a big bin of toys and then “race” to
put them away as fast as possible. We’ve also done some amusing role play to train the children how to politely
interrupt when two adults are engaged in conversation. In this scenario, Mom played the role of one adult and we
pretended that the crying baby was another adult—the children had to stand politely by and wait for a break in the
“crying” before saying, “Excuse me, Mom,” and proceeding with their request. They thought it was hilarious! So you
can see that training does focus on conforming behaviors, but also should be engaging, and even
enjoyable, for the children when possible.
The benefit of these anticipatory training sessions is that the children are being conditioned to obey our
commands, though they may lack an immediate purpose. We conduct this type of training at a quiet time when we can
all focus on expectations and proper behaviors—before circumstances force us to deal with disobedience,
dawdling, or misunderstanding at a time when it is inconvenient or we feel pressured. This helps to maintain a
positive tone in training, and we find that our instruction is very well received in this environment.
Compare this proactive training with the “drill and practice” methodology used by any sporting coach. Players
commit to consistent practice, wherein they engage in physical fitness and endurance activities. They also learn
and rehearse various game plays to ensure their understanding and mastery of the necessary knowledge and skills.
Drill and practice is what prepares athletes for “the big game”; the coach doesn’t wait until his team is on the
field to tell them what he expects them to do during play.
Another “conditioning” element of training that has been very beneficial for us is the establishment of routines
and order by way of scheduling (for feedings, naps, and social times versus independent play). This structure is
valuable even for infants, and it also provides boundaries and security for children as they age.
We have seen that this beginning conditioning, in its various forms, is of utmost importance in the overall
success of child training because it positions the adult as an authority, rather than allowing the child’s whims to
rule every circumstance. As a result, the child comes to learn that we are in control and yet have his best
interest in mind. Ultimately, a child who respects his parents is more likely to embrace the values that they value
and adopt them as his own during the more formal, instructional phase of training.
Copyright © 2007-2011,
Marc and Cynthia Carrier
Related Values-Driven resources:
A comprehensive, easy-to-read-and-apply parenting guide.
Instruction and Character Training Manual
Cynthia Carrier is the
homeschooling mom of eight children and author of several books. She has been a popular speaker at
homeschool conventions and other events.
The focus of Marc and Cindy's "Values-Driven" ministry is to encourage and equip Christian families to make the
most of every opportunity: that is, to serve God, participate in fulfilling the Great Commission, and raise
children who love and serve the Lord. For more information about their resources, for fresh inspiration on your
family journey, or to find practical helps-including many FREE DOWNLOADS-visit http://www.ValuesDrivenFamily.com.