When to Do Mand Training

Although it is possible and even wise to run mand training sessions at particular times of the day, mand training, particularly during its early phases, needs to be done when motivation is strong. If a mand session is scheduled, the student may not present an adequate level of motivation to work on mands targeted for instruction. In such a case, the first thing instructors will need to do is contrive motivation. Remember that if one needs to work too hard to contrive motivation, instructional targets may need to be changed or new items and activities will need to be conditioned as reinforcers. The items chosen for mand training should be consistently motivating to the student. Be careful, however, to also assess the degree to which issues of satiation and habituation impede the maintenance of motivation.

The most effective instruction for training specific mands will occur through teaching when natural opportunities present themselves. The opportunity to capture and contrive motivation can occur as part of a classroom schedule, but keep in mind that there will be many times when the opportunity to teach a mand is unscheduled. At such times, instructors need to be flexible and teach when the opportunity presents itself. Timing mand training to occur when the student is in the natural environment can reduce the need to provide generalization training and can capitalize on the availability of naturally occurring motivation.

Like any other skill, learning to make requests takes practice. For some students, instructors will need to provide hundreds of opportunities, if not thousands, to practice manding each day. Counting the number of prompted mands provides a way of tracking how many mand trials have been presented by instructors.

It will be important to consider the sequence of mand skills when planning instruction. Typically students will learn to mand for items and activities before they learn formal mands for attention. Mands that are prompted by the item’s presence will likely occur prior to mands that occur without the item present.