I wonder if this is something that is true for your difficult children? I have noticed that the more courteous and affectionate I am with J, the more reasonable and mature he can be with me. So this evening I picked him up after school, bringing with me a variety of snacks (well, better late than never...) that he ate hungrily. Then we took the dog for a walk in the vineyards around here - mountains in the distance, lush vegetation everywhere. I felt conscious of being really "present", in the moment - enjoying the walk, all that we were seeing. J was sweet, affectionate, wanting to hold my hand and pick flowers for me. Then, on the way back, I decided to go to the next village to buy some bread. As we approached the shop, J started his usual mantra of wanting a toy, could he have a toy, etc. This usually irritates and stresses me somewhat but tonight I was careful to keep very even and relaxed in my tone - still refusing, just explaining I needed my money for food... Then we saw a new playground, one we haven't used before, so stopped and J had a good time playing in it for 20 minutes (incidentally, he is getting SO strong on the monkey bars!). He was co-operative and pleasant. Back in the car I said to him - instinctively knowing it would be okay - very evenly again, and conversationally "Now, J, we are going to the shop and I'd like to go in just to look at food and we're not buying any toys or talking about toys, okay?" And he instantly replied, equally evenly, a mini-grown up "Oh, yes, Mummy, that's fine. I don't want any toys until next year anyway!" This is a BIGGIE for me... so rare thatI take him into shops because it often turns into such a fiasco, either because he's racing around or whining for toys and here he was, off his own bat, just maturely agreeing to behave... All because we had established a relationship of trust and harmony at that point. Makes you wonder. To what degree do you find this operates this way?