This comes from Positive Discipline, which is based on the work of Adler and Dreikurs. More here http://www.adlerian.us/dealing.htm.
The biggest clue for which mistaken goal your child is living in is how you feel.
Check the chart: annoyed, irritated, worried, guilty- attention; angry, challenged, threatened, defeated- power; hurt, disappointed, disbelieving, disgusted- revenge; despair, hopeless, helpless, inadequate- assumed inadequacy.
We all have a right to attention, power, empathy and help, but children do not know how to ask for these appropriately, or at a good time. Either do we, as adults, do we?
So, again, we are teachers.
A parent friend told me a lovely story about a family member redirecting a “bad” child to her lap; he only wanted attention, and got it there. A power child needs some appropriate control; a revengeful child wants to be heard; a discouraged child needs some support, and less help.
Is this easy- no!
It may feel like rewarding bad behavior. This is old school thinking. If you have had a bad day, and want to tell your husband about it, what would happen to your relationship if he said: “If you can’t say anything pleasant, go to your room until you can.” Wow. However, he doesn’t have to be your doormat, either. He can say: “I hear you’ve had a rough day; so have I. I’m going to walk the dog, and then I’ll be ready to hear your news when I get back.” Respect for everybody.