The idea behind the Positive Discipline Tool Break The Code is that children make decisions about themselves and how they will act based on how they feel and what they believe about themselves.
This isn't a quick and easy tool to apply. This one requires some time, observation and self reflection. Basically, you look at a specific behavior of your child's that you find troubling, reflect on how it makes you feel, then use the Mistaken Goals Chart to identify what belief is behind your child's behavior, and what you can do encourage the behavior to change. Take a look at Jane Nelson's blog on this tool, it goes over the process in great detail!
Here is a look at one of my experiences with this.
My husband, who just had come home from work, gets out his laptop to send an email for work. Our daughter comes over and puts something in front of the screen for him to see, or turns the computer off, or starts bouncing on the couch next to him. This scenario happens frequently. I ask him if he is willing to take a look at this problem with me . Later we have this discussion:
Me: How do you feel when this happens?
Husband: Annoyed, frustrated and a little guilty. Mostly annoyed.
Me: Ok. What do you usually do about it?
Husband: Ask her to stop, tell her that I am almost finished, plead with her to just be patient.
Me: Then what happens?
Husband: She usually keeps doing it, or stops for a second and then starts doing something else to
Me: How do you think that you would feel if you were in her shoes?
Husband: Well, I understand that she just wants to see me, but sometimes I just need to do something
Me: Ok, but if you think from her perspective, how would you feel?
Husband: Sad :(
Me: Ok, and what do you think you would decide to do?
Husband: I don't know, probably just keep doing it until he paid attention to me, or do something else
that would make him pay attention to me.
Me: Well, I think that it is clear that she is acting out because of Undue Attention. Let's look at the
chart together and decide what you will do next time
Together we decide that next time he will pause what he is doing and tell her "I love you and I promise that we will get to have our special time tonight right after dinner, and you can tell me al about your day then".
Fortunately, we had already discussed the need for special time and had arranged for that in our daily schedule. All it took was taking a moment to explain that he has a quick thing to do, but that he does love her and they will get to have their special time. What first looked like "misbehavior", was identified as Undue Attention. Using the Mistaken goal chart made it easy for us to find solutions we could try.
I think part of what makes this chart work best is having two people to share in this dialogue. It is possible to do it yourself, but if you have a spouse, partner, coworker etc. that you could go through it with, it makes is a more valuable experience.
I encourage you to try using this idea that there is a belief behind your child's behavior, and when you discover what it is it will be much easier to reach out to them and change the behavior.