We learned the “first…then” behavior strategy from our daughter’s birth-to-3 team. At the time, the goal was simply trying to help our daughter get a sense of time and order. “First you go to sleep for a nap. Then, you can play more.” We used social stories, which are essentially a tool to convey any routine, such a potty steps, the line-up of her preschool day, or what a Saturday, which is different every week, might look like.
Over time, “first…then” also became a way to get both our children to take part in some of the less desirable parts of a household. “FIRST, we clean up from the puzzles, THEN we can bring out the books.”
First… then can also be a pretty subtle bribery tactic. “First, we have our protein. Then we can have dessert.”