Backward Chaining is a useful strategy to enable your child to learn new skills. It involves breaking down a task into simple steps (task analysis) and teaching them in reverse order. This method allows the child to experience success at every attempt and is great for teaching self-help skills such as dressing.

Example: Task analysis of putting on a t-shirt

  • Step 1: Pull shirt over head
  • Step 2: Push right arm up through right sleeve
  • Step 3: Push left arm up through left sleeve
  • Step 4: Pull shirt down to waist

When using the backward chaining technique, you will complete the first three steps with hand-over-hand assistance, and simultaneously talks through what you are doing. Then, you ask your child to complete Step 4, and provide prompts if necessary. Reinforcement and praise is immediately provided after your child completes this step. This process is repeated until your child can complete the Step 4 himself, independently and consistently.

Once he is able to do this, you then only complete the first two steps and asks your child to complete the Step 3 and Step 4.

Eventually, you will be doing less and less, whilst your child does more and more until he can complete all the steps independently. Backward chaining maximises your child’s potential for success and increases their chances of receiving praise and reinforcement.