day 02 | cooperation: the mini course

The First-Then Principle is pretty magical. It’s easy and it works right out of the box. Watch the video, and try it out today. Seeing is really believing.

After you get the hang of it, read the four tips below to make the principle work even better. Or skip the tips, it will work anyways!

  • Tip 1: Don’t do it backwards. Example of what not to do: FIRST you watch Sesame Street, THEN you brush your teeth. The problem here is the dreaded activity (teeth brushing) is coming second. The fun thing has to come 2nd–it serves as motivation that way.
  • Tip 2: Be specific. The other night my husband told my son “FIRST you brush your teeth, and THEN you can go play”. This is pretty good, but it didn’t work. It works better with something specific. “Play” is very vague. At that moment my son badly wanted to ride with his scooter. So he switched it up–“FIRST you brush your teeth, THEN you can go ride your scooter”. It worked.
  • Tip 3: Find the perfect motivator. Pause and pay attention to what exactly your kid is wanting at that moment. Recently, my son woke up from his nap and the first thing he said was “I want to go give my sister a kiss”. That’s beautiful, right? Yes, except he needs to go potty when he gets up from nap. Therefore I used that desire to kiss his sister as the motivation. I said, “FIRST you go potty, THEN you can go give your sister a kiss”. No battle. He peed. Then kissed.
  • Tip 4: Stick with it. You will see immediate improvements when you drop the empty threats. But it will take practice to perfect it, and practice for your kids to get used to it.

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.