March 19, 2012

No Touch Training ~ Reader Mail Part 4

Reader, Tania at In the Dovecote, sent the following question. The response is very long and involved so I have divided it into a series of post over the next seven days.

On an unrelated note... how/when do you start training your children? I'm asking because, today I was reading to Bella and she wanted to eat the book (from the library) I said 'no' and held it out of her grasp, and she started to fuss a bit. Now, I don't know if she was fussing because of that or b/c she was tired (it was almost nap time). We want to be firm and train our children right from the start, but on the other hand I don't want to go overboard and be super strict and harsh. 

Eg. the other week we were at the corner store and a mother comes in with her little boy, about 3. She says 'We are just returning the movie and leaving.' He runs over to the candy and starts to say he wants some. She says 'No, come here.' He doesn't obey. Mom stands at the door for a while waiting. Boy starts to whine. Mom walks over to him and says 'no you can't have candy. Let's go.' Boy picks up a candy and runs to the door, saying he wants it. Mom says no, he starts on a temper tantrum. Mom says she is not going to get out her wallet just to pay for a 5 cent candy. Kid continues to whine. She says 'Do you really want me to take out my wallet just to pay for that candy.' He says yes. Finally mom gives a big sigh, hands the cashier .5 as she says 'He just HAS to have that candy!' and the child walks out all happy he got his way. 

My thoughts: Mother should have gone over to the the boy and taken him out of the store the moment he ran over to the candy. Even IF he had a temper tantrum. But my idea is that if he had been trained correctly in the first place, he wouldn't have bothered trying to have a 'temper tantrum'. 

What do you think? Sorry if you've already written a post about this, please just direct me to it. Thanks :o) 



No touch practice starts in our home as soon as baby is old enough to intentionally start reaching for anything.  This can be such a fun game.  The best time to practice no touch is when baby is sitting on your lap, such as at the dinner table or on the rocking chair during story time.  No touch is important for baby's safety, learning self-control and for everyone else's comfort.  You must be mindful during the training period.

It is good to remember what I call the rule of seven.  Many, many years ago when I was teaching a class on communication at the local community college, I came across this thought in a text book.  When a hurtful thing is said to someone, it takes seven pleasant things to reverse it.  This is a very simplified way of putting what took several chapters to explain, but bear with me while I illustrate.

If a child says something nasty to another child he must then think of seven kind things to say instead.  If we have offended someone by forgetting to follow through with a commitment, it takes 7 times of showing our dedication to following through to show the offended person our hearts are truly repentant and desires to do differently.

Now, I have found this applies well to parenting.  If you allow a child one time to touch something he should not, it will take seven successful training sessions to teach that we are not allowed to touch it.  Plain and simple.  Give it a whirl if you don't believe me.  I think if you start to observe your interaction with those around you, you will see the truth in this odd little tidbit.

This rule applies also to whining and really any negative behavior we may have allowed to be trained into our children.  Hopefully, you can therefore see the importance of being mindful during training time so as to not let the child develop a habit of touching.

If you are using dinner time as a training period, you might thus want to hold Bella on your lap while you give your full attention to being the trainer.  Papa will eat and then you will switch roles.  This way there will be no distraction to keep you from catching a training moment.  Let me stress the importance of this.  Not long ago, we were sitting at the table eating and visiting while Carmella was sitting on her Pa's lap.  We had company and no one was really paying attention to what baby was doing.  It was just a minute before a glass of water was dumped on the table.  Thank God it was not a plate of food or a hot beverage.  If done this way, training will not take long and soon you will be able to sit at any table with your darling and chat and eat and visit without worry of a drink ending up in your lap.

A training session should go something like this.  Put baby on your lap with your meal in front of you just as it would normally be.  (Sorry but you will have to have a cold dinner for a while or warm it over in the microwave... small price to pay).  Continue talking as you normally would but keep those eyes on baby's little hands.  In just a few seconds she will reach for a plate, place mat or something else she need not be touching.  Quickly, thump her little hand with your finger and say, "No touch" as normally as you can.  Baby will pull her hand away.  It is not likely she will even cry because this little thump does not hurt, but is just firm enough to get her attention.  She will again reach for the same thing.  Continue as before until she gives up and starts sucking on her fingers or playing with her hands or whatever.  Then hug up on her and kiss her and tell her what a good job she did to obey mama.  Try to keep talking so this is a normal part of the flow instead of a big deal baby must look for to obey.  Do not offer baby something else to appease her attention at this time.  You do not want her trained to be distracted but rather to choose to obey.

Note this example from story time this morning.  Carmella and I were rocking and reading books while I was having my morning coffee.  For obvious reasons, I did not want her to grab at my cup. She could have gotten burned and made a huge mess.  Nor, did I want my coffee to sit and get cold while we read.  She has the right to happily sit and listen to stories and I have the right to enjoy my coffee while we do so.

I used this for training time.  I put the cup right in front of her and had to wait only a few seconds before she reached for it.  BEFORE she touched it, I thumped her finger and said, "No touch" then continued singing "Jesus loves me" as if I had never stopped.  Less than five minutes of this and I was able to hold the cup right in front of her and she did not reach for it again.  I may need to repeat this cup training a few more times before it is solid but I know from experience in short time I could leave a hot cup of coffee sitting beside her and walk away and she will not touch it.  (For the record, I do not recommend doing that.)

I like to use this kind of training with eye glasses, cell phones, the oven, power cords and place settings at the dinner table.  Keep your eyes peeled for other things that baby encounters often but should not touch.  Once baby can pull up, it is good to do "no touch" training on the coffee table, book shelves, end tables etc... in your house.

With my boys I found it helpful to find a quiet corner in the store and sit on the floor in the aisle for a few minutes placing the toddler on my lap in front of the shelf for a few minutes of no touch training.  Boys need more help with no touch.  That's just how they seem to be made.  They also seem to have a harder time taking training from one situation to another, so this in store training was a great reminder that what we do at home continues with us when we are out and about.

Likewise, I found it helpful to have several training exercise in different homes of friends so that they understood this no touch rule is universal.  You will be so glad when you go visiting and can sit and happily chat without the worry of baby getting into mischief, causing damage or getting hurt.


  1. So we've been trying to train Bella not to touch things like the computer, dinner plate etc. but if I tap her hand she just keeps reaching for it anyway and then ends up grabbing it so I have to say 'no' and then peel her hand off. She doesn't really seem to 'get' it yet, sometimes her arms are just waving around and she doesn't even realize she is touching things! It is because she is a bit young (just 6 months?) thx!

    1. Persistence is the key with this one. You must determine if she is intentionally touching or not. It still won't hurt to gently remove her hand and say no touch but if she is just swinging her hands around then it isn't an issue of obedience yet. Does that make sense?