When I wanted to stop unwanted behavior in my dog, I'd squirt lemon juice or vinegar in his mouth. Apparently this is frowned upon when done to children. So here's my new thing, borrowed from my daughter's kindergarten. I tape a strip of paper around my child's wrist in the morning (like a bracelet). When they do something good (be quiet while I replay the answering machine messages, give the favorite bib to a sibling) I draw a star on the wristband. If they do something bad (spit at one of us or whine excessively) I scribble out one of the stars.
Day One. Son is thrilled to get bracelet like big sister. He gets a star right away for jumping up to practice piano without a single whine. Daughter is happy too, as she got two starts in less than an hour. Four hours later, she loses a star during a temper tantrum. Two seconds later, she rips the wristband off and throws it on the floor. (I know she never did THAT in Kindergarten.) Mom shrugs and moves on. At dinner, both kids behave exceptionally well. Mom gives son a star. Daughter wants star. Mom (channeling "Bread and Jam For Francis" mom) says, "I wish I could give you a star, Sweetheart, but you threw off your wrist band." Mom secretly thinking her lesson will now be hit home. BOO-YA! Daughter smiles and replies, "I still have all my stars, but they are in my head instead of on my wristband." Now mom is left wondering if this is a win for daughter alone, or for both.
I mean, she missed my point but I like a kid who can turn lemons into lemonade.