Extra: Rewarding Bad Behavior?

Some people have a hard time with the idea that when a child says No, we “reward” them with a game.  Isn’t this just encouraging them to say No?

I argue that this is not the case.  If a child is having a meltdown because he’s hungry, we wouldn’t withhold food until he was able to behave!  No, we would feed him first, then address the behavior.  Likewise, if little Caitlyn has missed her nap and is having a rough afternoon, we wouldn’t say, “Well, YOU’RE certainly not getting any sleep until you shape up, young lady!”  No!  Instead, we would put her to bed early.  We address the need, THEN the behavior.  I absolutely believe that the need for connection is just as important as the need for sleep or the need for food.  When children tell us through their behavior that they’re running low on connection, it makes sense to connect first, THEN correct the behavior.

Occasionally, kids do realize that they get a fun game from us when they do a specific, undesirable behavior.  Let’s say that Macy hits me and I say, “Oh, it looks like you want to play!” and I swing her upside down, much to her delight.  A little bit later, she comes up and hits me again, looking at me and laughing.  I can tell she wants to be swung upside down, but I want to discourage her from hitting, not the other way around!  What can I do?

It turns out that I wrote an article about exactly that, that was published on the website Word of Mom.  Take a look:

The Secret to Getting Your Way with a Stubborn Child 

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