No matter what the age – praising good behaviour is always better than punishing bad.
Even a small baby can manipulate – they have to – it is their survival mechanism – all they can do is cry for attention. If they feel insecure, for example if dad has been away for a period, then they may cry any time mum tries to leave the room. It is very hard to always take them with you, or always answer their call immediately, but they do get used to things gradually. Just try to be very reassuring when you do go to them. Be warm and cuddly with them, sing to them, and talk to them to explain – even when they can’t understand your words, then can understand your reassuring tone.
Exactly the same applies to old people or sick people dependent on your support – they feel helpless, as well as unwell, so they are bound to be cranky if they don’t get their share of attention. Give them a bell or something so that they can be sure you can hear them when they really do need you, and spend time with them whenever you can, just reading with them, chatting, playing games etc, so that they do feel you are there for them and don’t feel them to be too much of a burden. Try to show your love, talk about all the good times.
Also when working with disabled and / or mental health patients, they feel helpless, frustrated, and sidelined, so try to spend quality time with them – again reading, chatting, playing games, and singing. You might even really do a star chart for them if they can manage to shower for example without scratching or hitting, and reward them with more attention when they are doing well, although you still have to encourage and reassure them when they are struggling of course. Singing and counting can really help them achieve tasks too.
Similar things apply to your older children, especially when they are developing their own identity more….. praise them for courage in trying new things, even if the experience is not so good, they learn from it. Give them some slack, a bit of freedom, to explore their lives, relationships, and options.
So with your partners too, they will respond better when you show your appreciation for the good little things, the lovely things, the thoughtfulness and nice gestures – than if you only complain about the bad things. When you have a young family, it is hard to find time for each other, but even a few moments of tenderness here and there help. You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money and time trying to keep things alive, sometimes the little things count even more.
Remember to notice yourself, when you do good things. Don’t get all full of ego, but do acknowledge that you have managed something well. It helps your self esteem, and also your learning, as you will realise where skills are developing, but also where you could learn even more. Perhaps you will even uncover a hidden talent and start a new hobby or business.
Trying to control anybody else through punishment, manipulative behaviour, anger etc, just never works out well. If you give freedom and trust, and praise the positive, this leads to much more joy. Never forget to show by example – so express your own joy, sense of fun, and your love. Share your interests and feelings, and listen to others when they wish to do the same. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, for it is when you are truly being yourself that the right people are attracted to you, and the ones you already have around you stand with you.