I have two special friends in my room that have opposing physical needs. One of them seeks physical attention because he sees that as love and acceptance. His mom uses hugs to get him to stop bad behavior. So he misbehaves to get hugs. I have to say things like, "I will not hug you right now because you did not listen," or "I can't hug you right now because you hurt your friend." I give him hugs when he behaves appropriately but lately that's not often. Lately he has been acting out because he sees his teachers focusing a lot of attention on a student who needs physical attention.
This kiddo needs to be held and hugged. When he's have a rough day, and lately this has been often, he crashes and thrashes around the room. As he's thrashing and crashing the people in his path often get hurt. The only way to calm him down is to apply pressure. Sometimes we put him in a vest filled with weights, but the most effective thing we have tried is simply sitting on the floor with him in our laps and squeezing him. It's not about sitting on an adult's lap that calms him, it's the pressure we put on his body when we literally squeeze him. Think about that gentle squeeze you give someone when you give them a hug. We apply that squeeze the entire time he's on our lap. Sometimes 5 minutes - sometimes 30.
So my hugger sees this and thinks, "that kid misbehaves and gets hugs." So he misbehaves looking for the same result.
My kiddos do a pretty good job understanding that everyone has different needs but these two special friends don't have that understanding yet -- and I can tell it's just confusing for them.