One of the fundamental behavioral principles used with kids with depression is something called behavioral momentum, which basically means getting the ball rolling. Turns out, not surprisingly, it’s easier to keep a ball rolling once it already is.

As an example, take academic success. Kids who struggle academically tend to know it, and as a result learn to hate academics. Getting the ball rolling is tough. You’ll often spend hours each week fighting against just getting them to engage in the material, much less actually learn anything.

If you can actually get them past the initial hurdle of actually starting, though, the whole process can be a whole lot more smooth. For example, give them something that they immediately sense will be very easy. Given the choice of completing the really easy task or getting in a fight over it, they may be more likely to roll with you. Then, you can gradually increase the difficulty over time – sneaking in the tough part after the ball is already rolling.

Just like Mary Poppins, sometimes the medicine goes down a bit smoother with something sweet. In this case, the ordering of the something sweet is fairly important!