I call this technique the “principle of opposites.” It’s simple but effective. What is the most annoying behavior of your child? Does he frequently interrupt you? Does she have trouble complying with directions? What ever behavior it is, find its opposite…that’s the one that you really want to see more of anyway. Instead of giving most of your attention to a particular behavior of your child that annoys you, you “catch him” behaving well in the opposite area. Then, give him specific praise. “Billy, I really appreciate how you put away your toys right when I asked.” Remember, don’t just say “good job” when Billy puts his toys away…that’s not specific enough.
This takes practice…you will be breaking your old habit of repeatedly attending to your child’s negative behavior. Maybe even put a post-it note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself. Enlist your significant other’s support…help each other out so you can create a new habit. You’ll find that your much less negative toward your child AND it is likely that your child’s behavior will improve in that area that has been so troublesome.