'The Problem' is the problem -- not the kid
When I have a problem that concerns one of my kids (meaning: when I want them to do something that they refuse to do), I try to remember that I have a choice about how to approach the situation.
It's easy to visualize my child standing on the other side of a line next to The Problem, with me yelling across the line: "Hey, you better solve The Problem!" Instead, I get myself to stand next to my child -- with The Problem alone on the other side of the line -- and me putting an arm around my child, saying "Hey, lets tackle The Problem together."
I find that this attitude seems to make my kids feel better about themselves. It minimizes shame and gets us away from scolding and into problem-solving.
Wow. The wisdom of this hack is astounding. What fortunate children to grow up with such a role model.
Imagine what would happen if one communicated with one's partner that way, too.
More: Hacks about behavior and learning