Dr. Rich Patterson

Part One. Parenting on Purpose: Attitude

John Maxwell on his word of the day focused on Parenting and specifically 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 is having a good attitude during the difficult times, the negative times.  That is a tough part for all of us isn’t it?  Adult or child?

When we work with our kids and things are not going so well, how can we teach them to maintain a good attitude?  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 important game in an athletic contest  and they lost.  When you pick them up to take them home you notice immediately that they’re down in the dumps.  What questions can you ask?  Ask them first if they played as a team?  Then ask did you do 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 best by a better team.”  If the answer is no to one or more, help them to analyze how to do better.  Either way, turn it in to a positive.
  2. Teach them to not allow themselves to be in the “poor me” attitude for more than a few minutes.  I know people who are really good at this.  Something negative happens and they are bummed-out for a short while and then they just 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 been in a conflict with another student nearly daily.  We would sit down and take a part 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 there were several exit points prior to the conflict incident itself that would have helped, had they just reminded them selves that they can choose their reactions.
  4. Look at conflict and difficult times as character development.  This may be best taught during a time when things are going well.  Help the child to understand that it is during the most difficult times in your life that you learn the most about yourself.  Not during the good times.  The difficult times are our teachers and if we just 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 genuine state of mind for them, not a put-on or something that they pretend about.  I asked one friend how she does it, knowing that she had plenty of things to be down about.  She said, I change the focus.  Rather than letting it get me down, I change the channel, so to speak.  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.

Rich