Hi there. My name is Narissa Williams, and I’d like to briefly review Premack Principle, what we affectionately refer to as Grandma’s Rule, and how we can incorporate it into our everyday routines.
What is the Premack Principle in ABA?
The Premack Principle is the general idea that we can motivate our kiddos to do something that they prefer not to do, if we reward it with something they find highly motivating. When the reward is something truly valued by our kiddos, we find this approach to be extremely effective.
Premack Principle Examples
Think back to Grandma’s Rule. First we eat our vegetables, and then we get dessert. For our more visual kiddos, we can take this a step forward by incorporating a First, Then, board. You can also refer to it as a reminder, that although the child may be doing something that they don’t currently like, like doing their homework, that a preferred activity is next to follow, like playing with Legos.
How to Use the Premack Principle in ABA?
When using the Premack principle, start with identifying some activities that your child isn’t fond of, or does not particularly enjoy. This activity is the first in our contingency. Now think about all the things your child absolutely loves. These can be items, an area, or an activity. This will be our Then. Remember this is what we’re using to motivate our child to do something difficult or non-preferred. So, it should be worth the effort of doing the first activity. Is your teenager more likely to mow the lawn if the reward is a dollar or $100?
If your reward is something the child loves, but they aren’t willing to do the more difficult task to gain access, we have to reevaluate our reward. Does the child need more of the item? Are we giving enough of it, or do we need to possibly switch it out for something else? Starting off with a visual of what is expected. This, Then, That, is helpful with teaching your child an understanding of the contingency.
In the beginning, start easy. First, take a bite of broccoli, then get a cookie. As our kiddos get more comfortable, then we can begin to build, or increase, what we ask. We can start off with a bite of broccoli for a cookie, then build all the way up to having all of the broccoli for dinner, in exchange for a cookie. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.