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What is the Premack Principle?

What is it?

A principle that states that making the opportunity to engage in a high-probability behavior contingent on the occurrence of a low-frequency behavior will function as reinforcement for the low-frequency behavior.

In other words: you are using a simple statement to increase compliance by making the learner FIRST engage in the less desired task before they can have the opportunity to engage in the more preferred task/activity.

How to use it?

To start, you must identify a reward that will likely be motivating for the student (e.g., time on electronics, favorite snack, tickles).

Make a statement in the form: “First (target task), then (reward).”

*Only give the reward once the learner has completed the non preferred task.

What it should look like:

Child: Can I go outside to play with my friends?

Parent: first finish your homework and then you can go outside and play

*Child begins to work on homework*

Tip: Use specific and simple language.

For example, instead of using phrases like “work hard,” say the specific expectation (e.g. “complete 5 math problems” or “clean up all the toys in the living room”).

Use this tip when stating the reward as well “5 minutes on iPad” or “10 minutes of outside play.”

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