Raising Positive Kids: Just What Are We Reinforcing? Think About It & Read This! by Cynthia Miller
What do you do when your child needs attention but is using negativity to get it? It feels awful not to give kids attention when they need it, right? But it's so important to teach them positive ways to ask for it!
I explain to my kids I'm not going to give them attention if they "ask" for it in negative ways, like threatening to leave the house or sulking. Instead, we need to teach their brains to wire into positive communication. Of course, if a child has broken her arm and is yelling all sorts of negative things, that's not the time to simply walk away. But it's worth contemplating whether overall we're reinforcing positivity or negativity
If your child gets in the car every day after school and says, "My day was terrible and I hate everyone" and you say, "Really? Tell me how?" and proceed to have a conversation, negativity is getting rewarded with attention! Maybe say lightly, "Oh, that's too bad," then turn on the radio. When she says, "Mom, today someone I felt upset because someone was mean to me," you praise, praise, praise her for talking to you like a "big kid" and telling you her emotions!