First, and then

I’m quite fond of the first, and then technique to help motivate a person to do something by including a ‘reward’. The technique goes – first you need to tidy this, then you can play a game. This helps them see what they need to do first and what they can do next. This is good for those children who struggle to understand that they can postpone an activity until after they have completed another, as some children may become overwhelmed thinking they will never be able to play their game because they have to tidy instead. This also helps as a motivator by informing the person what they can have/do directly after the task has been completed.

This technique can be used effectively for some PDAers as it keeps instruction to a minimum, is direct and to the point. The clear and instant reward works as they know exactly what they can get without it being packaged as a reward which can be off-putting. Some PDAers, however, tend to try negotiating with this and some try to turn it around by saying ‘first play my game, then tidy up’.

I have used this technique on my own kids and it does work, it’s simple enough to be understood by a three year old.

This technique is one I use myself, on myself. It works a treat but not in the way it’s intended. I have a habit of doing the opposite of what I tell myself and what others tell me to do, especially if I’m feeling particularly oppositional at that moment in time. This is when first, and then works best. Of course the reward part doesn’t work, if I say ‘I’ll make this phone call then I can have some chocolate’ I’ll likely just have the chocolate then never make the phone call. I know this from experience. What does work though, is using the technique when there’s multiple tasks I need to complete. I will say ‘first I’ll make that phone call, then I’ll wash the dishes’. My natural oppositional behaviour means I will be thinking ‘no’ whilst starting to wash the dishes, then I might make that phone call. Strangely this also works if I say ‘first I’ll play my game for a while, then I’ll make that phone call’…yep, I’ll make that phone call first. PDA is truly weird.

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