First-Then Strategy

The First-Then Strategy establishes a simple timeline which can help a child focus on a non-preferred or adult-directed task prior to moving on to a preferred task. This strategy can be useful for redirecting a child’s attention when they are refusing to participate.

If a child refuses to put on their shoes before leaving the house, you might say, “First, put on your shoes, then we can go outside to play.”

If a child wants to skip to story time before bed, you could say, “First, you need to brush your teeth, then we can read a book.”

An example of a first-then board with 2 images side by side. The 1st image (left) of a child brushing teeth and the 2nd image (right) is a family in pajamas reading a story.