Training in Times of Non-Conflict

How to get your child to obey before there is disagreement or conflict. Obedience training and first time obedience will go better with this helpful tool to teach your child BEFORE there is conflict.

2 year old McKenna leaning against a fence

We all know the moment of temporary panic. Your child is doing something you do not want them to do, but you haven’t really ever talked about it before and you are out in public. How do you handle it?

Or maybe you HAVE talked about it with your child before and despite the fact that you have told her it isn’t okay to have a tantrum when it is time to leave the park, she has that tantrum every.single.time.

Enter the parenting tool of training in times of non-conflict.

What Does Traning in Times of Non-Conflict Mean?

Training in times of non-conflict means that you teach your child appropriate behaviors before the actual potential problem occurs.

Many times your child will act in a way that is displeasing to you simply because he literally doesn’t know any better.

Sometimes your child knows better but just doesn’t have the tools necessary to react any other way.

Training in times of non-conflict allows you to teach your child what appropriate behaviors are when you are not in the “heat of the moment.’ It is also a time to work out the “kinks” without the benefit of people watching both of you.

We often assume our children just know what is expected of them. This is unfair and also illogical.

A child is not typically born knowing how to greet someone new or to say thank you when something nice is done for them. Some are very socially adept and observe those behaviors, but most need to be taught that.

What Does Non-Conflict Training Look Like?

Here are the steps for non-conflict training:

  • Explain the situation to your child as best you can. Tell your child what will happen.
  • Explain your expectations of your child in the situation. Tell your child what is okay and what is not okay.
  • Ask your child to repeat to you what you have shared and clarify any confusion.
  • Practice the expected behavior. Tell your child to pretend they are in the situation and act it all out.
  • Tell your child the consequences that will happen (if any) when the rules are not followed.
  • When the moment arises, remind your child of the non-conflict training.
Mother and child being affectionate

Training in Times of Non-Conflict Scenarios

What are some situations you might want to train for? Let’s talk about a few.

Scenario 1: Playdate

Perhaps you have a friend coming over to play with your child.

Training before the conflict would be to tell your child Bobby is coming to play, then going through the motions of what will happen when Bobby gets there. Explain that he will greet Bobby at the door and welcome him there.

Then perhaps they will go to your son’s room to play. Bobby will want to play with your son’s toys. Your son needs to share toys with Bobby. And so forth.

You talk the situation out and even role-play. You can talk about how maybe your child won’t want to share toys, but think about how your child would feel if he went to Bobby’s and Bobby wouldn’t let him share.

You work all of these things out before Bobby even gets there. Then you can give gentle reminders if needed, but your child is mentally and emotionally prepared for what is to come.

Imagine from your child’s perspective what having Bobby over to play would be like WITHOUT some non-conflict training.

Bobby comes over and your child is suddenly admonished for not greeting Bobby at the door. Your child is immediately confused and perhaps embarrassed. Then Bobby goes for your child’s toys and starts getting them out and playing with them.

Imagine if your spouse invited someone over to cook in your kitchen and didn’t give you a heads up first. You might be thrown off, and you are an adult.

Scenario 2: Leaving the park

Let’s talk about another scenario. Perhaps you are going to the park to play. You want to avoid a meltdown when you tell your son it is time to go home. You tell your son what is expected when it is time to leave and do a practice session.

When you get to the park, you ask your child what he should do when it is time to go home. Ask him if it is okay if he screams and cries or runs away from you. This is utilizing Ask and Tell, another great parenting tool.

I had to use this with 2 year old Brayden when Kaitlyn was a newborn. He did NOT want to leave the park when it was time. He would climb up into the playground equipment, leaving me with a newborn and trying to figure out how to get him down.

>>>Read: How To Teach Your Child to Come When Called

Scenario 3: Going out to dinner

Maybe you are going to go out to dinner at a restaurant or friend’s house. You might have different hopes and expectations at a restaurant than you do at home. You cannot expect your child to just know what those expectations are and how to meet them.

You can practice appropriate voice levels and manners at home. You can go over when it is okay to leave the table. You can teach your child how to speak to the server.

Scenario 4: Church behavior

It is possible you have decided it is time for your son to sit more quietly at church. You might have practice church time at home.

I once attended a conference where a woman spoke who had 8 children. She had some twins and all of her children had come closely together. She was determined that they would sit on the front row and be good. They practiced at home each day until her children got it.

>>>Read: How To Keep Your Kids Quiet at Church

Scenario 5: Child hitting other children

No one likes having the child who hits other kids. You will want to talk about this at home and train when your child is not faced with it.

There was a time period one of my girls would hit other kids at the park. She usually did it in retaliation, but I was still not okay with it. We talked about what to do instead and what was okay and not okay. I also explained that if she hit someone, we would immediately leave the park and go home.

It is worth noting that I noticed she tended to hit once it was time for her nap. My other kids had been able to go to the park and play nicely even during their nap, so nap could be skipped or late that day, but for this child, nap still had to start on time.

We need to make sure we set our kids up for success. If your child cannot listen when tired or hungry, don’t take them out when tired or hungry.

>>>Read: How to Handle an Aggressive Toddler

Scenario 7: Library behavior

Your toddler will not naturally know that when they are in the library, they need to whisper and they can’t just go around pulling all of the books off the shelves.

A child entering school is taught proper library behavior and expectations the first time they go to the library. The librarian walks them through it all. If this happens with 5-7 year olds, then we should definitely expect to need to do the same with our little toddlers and preschoolers.

I have written on how to do this extensively in this post: Teaching Kids to Behave at the Library

Scenario 8: Going to the dentist

How scary can the dentist be? Some adults need to be medicated to get through it. Imagine having no idea what is going on and having some stranger with a mask sticking tools into your mouth.

It is kind of unnerving.

This is a great opportunity to going through the non-conflict training. Practice what it will be like. Tell your child what will happen. Focus on the benefits and what the dentist is doing–helping keep teeth healthy and clean! You can hype the situation up.

>>>Read: Prepping for the Dentist using Training In Non-Conflict + Ask & Tell

Scenario 9: Behavior at home

All training in times of non-conflict needn’t be in preparation for social situations. It can be for a happy attitude when it is nap time, clearing dishes after a meal, etc.

The point here is that training your child before it is a battle of wills between the two of you will help prepare you both. You can clearly outline your expectations and have that clear in your head. Your child can be informed of those expectations and learn how to carry those expectations out.

This way, your child knows what is expected. You can refer to what your child knows rather than trying to teach during a meltdown.

What Age Can You Start Training in Times of Non-Conflict?

What age do you start training in times of non-conflict? Probably younger than you think.

You need to decide what age your child is ready, but know that your child understands far more than he can communicate. I started with toddlers.

Keep expectations and instructions age-appropriate, in both directions. Don’t be too hard but also don’t be too easy. This is something that can be so beneficial to both you and child. Give it a try!

Related Posts

Training in times of non-conflict pinnable image

This post first appeared on this blog in October of 2008

15 thoughts on “Training in Times of Non-Conflict”

  1. Great post. I have often seen other children resisting their parents or not acting appropriately and have wondered if the parents had taken the time to tell them what to expect or what was expected of them in certain situations. Though my baby is less than 12 months, I have often thought I would do something like what you are talking about–but you laid it out so much more clearly than the thoughts in my head. Thanks so much!

  2. This was something I needed to read right now. Thank you. My son is 13 months and we keep him in church with us, our church doesn’t offer Sunday school/nursery. My DH and I are having a hard time with him in church and I feel like DH is too hard on LO but maybe that isn’t the case, I think I need to rethink this. I have yet to read Toddlerwise. Does it cover anything about church behavior in children this young? How high do you think we should set our expectations? It’s tough. I don’t want him to learn that acting out or crying gets him a free ticket out of the service but I also don’t want to distract anyone else. AND i want church to be a place he wants to go. But maybe that means setting some strict boundaries now…? Anyway! thanks for this post…

  3. Good point! I taught a Kindergarten/First Grade combination class last year and I definitely was not good at it. The biggest thing I learned for the future with raising my own kids & teaching a class is that if the kids understand how to do things from the start, you set them up to succeed behavior-wise. It empowers them to behave & gives them confidence going into the new situation. It also ensures that they behave according to your ideas of proper behavior rather than reacting based off of pure emotion. This advice reminds me of the ideas in the Pottywise book with practicing and such.

  4. Great post! I so needed to read this tonight. I have to bring my kids to a meeting tomorrow and our training hasn’t been the best lately, so I’m dreading it! I will definitely teach him about the meeting and practice for it in the morning. So good!

  5. I LOVE training outside of conflict. I make up “training games” so it’s fun for my 3 year old. For example we have a Parking Lot/Street Safety game. Check my blog for details.

  6. First, your blog is such a helpful resource, and I can’t imagine the time and effort you must put in it to make it so wonderful. You are an inspiration. Thank you!Secondly, I am a huge BW fan. My daughter did BW from the get go and now, at 20 month old, is still a fantastic sleeper. With BW, she started sleeping 12+ hours at 12 weeks, and even though I had to endure some CIO times, overall it was a relatively easy plan for her.I have a 10 week old son, and I’m having MAJOR issues. He was diagnosed with acid reflux at 6 weeks, although I’m still not 100% confident that he is not just a very FUSSY baby. Whatever the case, he is on meds for the reflux. My problem, he will NOT get on a proper sleep schedule. I watch for cues, he gives them, I put him in the crib and he SCREAMS. Until the next feeding time. Every time. If it is an hour to the next feeding or 2 1/2 hours to the next feeding. He SCREAMS.The only way I’ve been able to get him to sleep at all is in the car seat, and even then it is inconsistent.His mattress is elevated, I try swaddling…nothing works.My question is this – when he is still screaming when it is time to feed him again (every 3 hours), should I get him, feed him and restart the cycle? Or does this train him that I will eventually rescue him if he keeps screaming? Or should I let him keep screaming until he will eventually fall asleep and then wake him up and feed him, even if that puts my cycle at 4 – 5 hours?I hope that makes sense. I’m so sleep deprived right now, I can’t think clearly….If you have questions, you can email me at [email protected]🙂

  7. Julie, I don't know your situation so I don't know if this will apply or not, but could he possibly sleep on you (in a wrap or carrier) instead of his crib for a while? Or do you have a swing? The swings have pretty elevated heads. I did BW and I loved it, but the thing I would change with my next baby is that I thought if I didn't get my LO used to his crib early, he would never sleep in it. Now I regret not letting him sleep on me more while he was little. I know that it may have been a few days of work to get him used to a crib when he got older, but it would be worth it. Maybe your LO wouldn't scream if he was sleeping on you in a wrap? The movement from walking around always conked out mine when he was in a carrier. I have no idea how to survive a fussy/colicky/reflux baby, so more power to you! Hang in there!

  8. My 2.5 year old daughter dumps her potty on the floor or dips things in it on an almost daily basis. She is too typing to go to the bathroom by herself and I think she would take advantage of calling out to go to the bathroom. Any suggestions? I'm currently 38 weeks pregnant and have a 6.5 year old. We try to get in her room before she can pour the potty. She has once smeared her poo on the wall and floor and just dipped a cord in her poo yesterday. We have tried consequences like taking away books,toys,and stuffed animals. She is very strong willed.

  9. acasper3 oh boy that is a rough one! I would have her allowed to get out, go to the potty in the bathroom, and then go back. I would maybe give her 2-3 potty tickets per independent playtime. I definitely wouldn't want her having the potty in her room.


Leave a Comment