14 strategies parents need to know
In many cases adults can help children change their behavior when they stop dealing with the misbehavior and deal with the underlying cause: discouragement.
Encouragement is providing opportunities for a child to develop the perceptions, "I'm capable, I can contribute, and I can influence what happens to me or how I respond." Encouragement is teaching children the life skills and social responsibility they need to be successful in life and relationships. Such support can be as simple as giving them a hug to help them feel better and thus do better.
A Story from Jane: A young father was frustrated and perplexed about the frequent temper tantrums of his four-year-old son. Scolding or punishing only increased the tantrums. The father learned in his parenting class that a misbehaving child is a discouraged child, and that encouragement is the best way to deal with misbehavior. The idea seemed backward to him—sort of like rewarding unruliness. Still, he was intrigued with the idea that children do better when they feel better. He decided to test the theory.
The next time his son started a tantrum, the father got down on one knee and shouted above the racket, "I need a hug." His son paused and asked through his sobs, "What?" The father shouted again, "I need a hug." His son stopped sobbing long enough to ask incredulously, "Now?!?" The father said, "Yes, now." The son seemed totally bewildered, but he stopped his temper tantrum and said somewhat begrudgingly, "Okay." Then he stiffly gave his father a hug. Soon the stiffness disappeared and they melted into each other's arms. After a few moments the father said, "Thanks, I needed that." His son said, with a small tremor on his lips, "So did I."
Remember timing. Sometimes hugs don't work because the child is too upset to give or receive a hug or any kind of encouragement. You can still try. If the child is unwilling, you can say, "I sure would like a hug whenever you are ready," and then leave the area. Parents report that when they try this, the child usually comes after them right away wanting a hug.
Ashwin was playing in the rain and ignored his mother's call to come inside. He was peeved, and Mom was growing impatient and went out to fetch him. She surprised her son by saying she was really hot and needed a wet hug. They both laughed as he tried to smother her in hugs and kisses. Next time he will want to please Mom.