Bad Attitudes Come In Three Arenas

A bad attitude is a challenge to family life and frustrates many a parent. Furthermore, if children don't learn how to deal with their attitude, they grow up to be adults with bad attitudes. One way to help children overcome a bad attitude is to take it apart and help them deal with it in smaller pieces.

Children are tempted to have a bad attitude in three prominent areas: when given an instruction, when corrected, and when given a "no" answer. One mom put a sign up in her kitchen listing those three areas with the heading, "Three opportunities for a good attitude."

Take time to talk about attitude with your children. Discuss the importance and benefits of a good attitude. Help your children understand these three areas and even warn your child when one of them is coming. Coach your children to have a better response.

The next time your child demonstrates a bad attitude, don’t just point out the negative but teach how to respond rightly. When given an instruction, a child might say, "Okay Mom," in a pleasant tone of voice. When corrected, it would be helpful to say, "I'm sorry." When receiving a "no" answer, children might say to themselves, "Okay, maybe another time."

A bad attitude is often a sign of an angry spirit and the groaning, rolled eyes, sarcasm, stomping feet, or disgusted look are all attempts to communicate dissatisfaction with the situation. Gently point out these bad habits and help your children to practice better responses. Be careful of your own harshness in the process and look for ways to break the problem down into manageable pieces.

Share with us some ways that you've helped your child process through disappointment.

Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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  1. This post was super helpful right now! It confirms that so far I am doing an okay job of pointing out and correcting bad attitudes. However, I pulled out this:" A bad attitude is often a sign of an angry spirit and the groaning, rolled eyes, sarcasm, stomping feet, or disgusted look are all attempts to communicate dissatisfaction with the situation." What can I give my daughter to help her to express and healthily deal with those feelings of anger at the time she is feeling them? These feelings need to go somewhere! I am slightly desperate, I grew up in a home that didn't do this part right, and have been scouring books trying to find a better way--I don't want my daughter silently haunted by unexpressed emotions and even hatred like I was for most of my childhood (the "angry spirit"?). I also want her to learn a good attitude! Not sure if this is the forum for this question, but if I grab someone's ear, I would really appreciate any guidance!
    Thank you for this weekly email! Thank you thank you thank you!

  2. Hi Traci,
    That's a great question. We want to teach our kids to process their emotions in a healthy way, without stuffing them or using them to hurt others. You want to validate the emotion without allowing for the disrespect. This takes time and teaching. The trick is to use words instead of actions to communicate displeasure. You may want to encourage statements like "I'm disappointed" or "That frustrates me, Mom." The goal is to get the feelings into words not actions. This will get you moving toward healthier dialogue. JM

  3. Oh i so agree with Traci! my 9yr old son is having issues with this when we ask him if he has completed his homework. His response to us has been perceived as disrespectful but upon questioning him we find that the response(moaning, making an unhappy face)is not at us for asking him to do something but for having to stop doing something he likes to do in order to do what he does not like(homework). We have explained that everday is a balance of doing what we want(enjoy doing) to do vs what we have to do(which we may or may not enjoy doing). The explanation helps him(and us) understand why but does not help him deal resolve his feelings of frustration--where and how can they be expressed healthy?? Repression is not healthy but i dont know how to give an alternative that will relieve his frustration and work positively. I am not sure that teaching him to tell us "I'm disappointed or I am frustrated because I don't like doing my homework" will really help him resolve these feelings?

  4. I'll just add a couple of thoughts here that might get things moving in the right direction. When the Bible says "Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to get angry," the implication is that we have control over the immediate response to disappointment. Many children lack that control for a time and need to develop it. Parents can help in that process of developing self control.

    Although repression of anger isn't good, secular reason suggests that venting it is the solution. We would disagree. Proverbs 29:11 says, "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." That control is going to be the key.

    Certainly God produces self control in a person's life and encouraging our children to rely on God's grace is helpful, but if they aren't ready for that or if they reject that power then we as parents must move into a self control plan with our kids.

    Let me just give a couple of suggestions. First, define how you want your child to respond well. In other words, instead of telling our kids what not to do, we need to define in practical terms what we want them to do. Next, set up practice sessions when you interrupt or ask a child to do extra work. Not big things but just practice sessions to develop the heart qualities necessary to respond better to that child's issues.

    Those are a couple of ideas I hope are helpful. It's hard in this short space to offer comprehensive biblical help. A resource that might be helpful is our CD entitled "Helping Children Deal with Anger." You can download the mp3 for $6. It's packed with ideas. --Scott

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