Dr. Rich Patterson

Part One. Parenting on Purpose: Attitude

On his word of the day, John Maxwell focused on Parenting and, precisely, attitude.  I like what John said when he said that attitude was one thing that he and his wife Margaret wanted to be sure that their kids understood.  He went on to say that the difficult part has a good attitude during the difficult times, the negative times.  That is a tricky part for all of us.  Adult or child?

How can we teach them to maintain a good attitude when working with our kids and things are not going so well?  I have listed five things below that may help.

  1. Learn to look on the bright side regardless of the circumstances.  Let’s say that your child just played an actual game in an athletic contest, and they lost.  When you pick them up to take them home, you notice immediately that your child is down in the dumps.  What questions can you ask?  Ask them first if they played as a team?  Then ask whether you did your personal best.  Then help them to let go of the loss and learn from it.  If the answer is yes to both of those questions, I like to point out that “you were just beat by a better team.”  If the answer is no to one or more, help them analyze how to do better.  Either way, turn it into a positive.
  2. Teach them not to allow themselves to be in the “poor me” attitude for more than a few minutes.  I know people who are good at this.  Something negative happens, and they are bummed out for a short while and then change.  I mean, the change is genuine, like they can flip a switch.  We can learn to choose to focus on what we have learned, on the next game, or the next test.
  3. We always have a choice.  As a school administrator, I would work with kids who had conflicted with another student nearly daily.  We would sit down and take part in what happened, and frequently they would start from the time right before the conflict.  I would often lead them back before that to what led up to the conversation that caused everything.  After learning the whole story, I would point out to them that several exit points before the conflict incident would have helped if they just reminded themselves that they could choose their reactions.
  4. Look at conflict and challenging times as character development.  Reflect on this when things are going well, and then teach.  Help the child understand that during the most challenging times in your life, you learn the most about yourself.  Not during the good times.  The difficult times are our teachers, and if we give them a chance by trying to understand how to improve, we will find a strength that we never knew was there.
  5. Change the focus.  I have several friends that are nearly always up, happy, cheerful, and ready to have a conversation.  It is a natural state of mind, not a put-on or something they pretend.  I asked one friend how she does it, knowing that she had plenty of things to bring her down.  She said I changed the focus.  Rather than letting it get me down, I change the channel.  I think of something that I enjoyed recently, or a fun conversation with a friend, rather than thinking more and more about what I cannot change.  I’m here to tell you that it works.  I will be back on Wednesday with more about Parenting on Purpose.

The next step with kids is teaching them responsibility for their attitude, read here, Take Responsibility for your Attitude – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Very Well Family has a post on a positive attitude that may be helpful, Helping Kids Have a More Positive Attitude (

Yours for Better Parenting,