Should I Pre-teach EVERY instruction? | Teaching Self-Government

Should I Pre-teach EVERY instruction?

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 "My son is pretty good at all 4 basic skills as long as I prep him by saying "This is an instruction, a no answer, etc."  If I forget to do that and just give him an instruction, he doesn't say "okay."  Then when I tell him he didn't say okay he says, "But you didn't tell me it was an instruction!"  Is it reasonable to expect him to respond to instructions without pre-teaching or should I just plan that it is my responsibility to pre-teach?  I know other people outside of the home are not going to pre-teach so I would like him to be in the habit of saying "okay" without pre-teaching.  What are your thoughts on this?"

It is so good to see that your son responds so well to your pre-teaching.  That is exactly what pre-teaching is for.  Now that he has a firm understanding of the Four Basics, it is time to help him choose to govern his behaviors and emotions without always being prompted. 

Pull him aside for a small counseling session and praise him for how well he is doing with following instructions etc.  Make the praise heart-felt and meaningful.  Then tell him that he is ready to govern his own behaviors without you reminding him ahead of time.  Tell him exactly what will happen if he doesn't either say "OK" or ask to disagree appropriately when given instructions etc.  Then have him help make a positive consequence for a whole day of following the Four Basics without being prompted. 

He should be able to focus for a day.  At the end of that day, praise him and follow through with whatever positive consequence he earned.  Let him know that you know he is able to follow instructions now without being told, so you will not be telling him as often when you are going to give him an instruction etc. 

On day two I would prompt 1/3 of the time.  Ideally, you want to be able to get to only having to prompt one time out of every 6-8 instructions. 

If he ever says, "But you didn't tell me it was an instruction!" you will need to treat the comment as excuse making; which is not accepting a consequence. 

If you ever think that he might not be in the frame of mind to remember the four basics, be sure to pre-teach.   If you sense that he is emotional and could not react well to instruction, pre-teach.  Reminders at these times, encourage self control. 

Self-Government is being able to determine the cause and effect of any given situation, and possessing a knowledge of your own behaviors so that you can control them.  According to this definition your son MUST master recognizing instructions etc. himself; that is the determine part. 

It sounds like he is on the path to governing his own behaviors.  Keep up the good work and remember to be consistent.  If he doesn't follow the instruction (prompt or not) immediately do a corrective teach about following instructions and have him follow through with what he has earned.  System consistency inspires self mastery!  

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