Library Training


One day several months ago I mentioned in an online Babywise mom group that I was doing some library training with McKenna. Several moms expressed interest in how I went about that process. There was so much interest, I thought “This needs to be a post.”


First, some back story. McKenna got to a point in the library that she was no fun to take. She was loud, she would not stay where I told her to, and she loved to pull book after book off the shelves. Obviously these are not the most desireable traits to have in the library.

Let me tell you, our library is a new library and the person who designed it obviously has never taken a child to the library! It is lovely and bright, but completely open. It is one large room and the materials used in it lead to severe echoing! Sounds travel across the building at the speed of light. The floor in the children’s section is tile. Oh my. It is neither cozy nor noise absorbing. Okay, done with my rant on the library design. I have to work with what I have, and that means libary behavior needs to be at 100%.

Make Goals
First, make a list of clear goals you want. What is it your child is doing that is undesireable? What does she need to learn in order to reach the desireable behavior? Make your list of concrete goals.

Start At Home
Like any behavior you want to have in public, for library behavior, you need to start with the basics at home. If your child doesn’t listen to you wat home, why would she in public? Make sure she obeys at home before you expect obediene when you are out.

Next, practice behaviors at home. You don’t teach public behaviors in public. It is a great place to practice what  you have learned at home, not to teach. Does your child know how to whisper? If not, then telling her to in a public library will not  produce the results you are seeking. You need to teach at home and practice at home.

Remind Before You Go 
Run through the list of rules and expectations either at home before you leave or in the car before you go in. “Do we run in the libary? No? What do we do?” “Do we yell in the library? No? How do we talk?” Give a clear expectation and a consequence, “If you cannot be quiet while we are in the library, then we will have to leave and go home.”

Go One-on-One
If you have other children that can and will distract you from the child learning library behavior, go with just that one child. Brayden and Kaitlyn are very well behaved in the library, and during our intense training time, I still only took McKenna. I wanted her to be my one concern and worry.

The tricky thing with a child a few kids in is that she quickly figures out that when mom is distracted, she can get away with things. And with other children to take care of, mom is often distracted. Sure, she gets caught and stopped at some point, but she got to have fun until then. This third child of mine is a master at reading me. She is also very patient in waiting for that right moment. As soon as she sees me distracted, she will seize the moment. This is a unique skill she has over my older two. With two, I am never distracted enough to let a child slip under my radar.

Make Training Your Focus
When you go to the library during intense training, go with training as your primary goal. Don’t go intending to find 15 great picture books on apples. Your goal is not books–it is library training. I still looked at books and  choose books, after all, I was working on teaching her what to do so I could get books in peace with her behaving at the library, but if I needed to completely drop what I was doing, I was ready and willing to do so.

I did not let her get away with one inch during training. Because I am consistent with her at home, she knew I was serious at the library.

It really only took a couple of times at the library focusing on training to get things under control. And now it is so easy! I tell her where to sit. I tell her which books she can look through (they have bins of toddler books that are not organized), she is quiet, and she listens to me. I am so glad that I put the effort into training. I think her favorite place to go is the library. It was well worth the effort it took to teach her how to behave at the library.

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