Working with children, especially teens and preteens, I hear myself continually saying," You have five minutes to change your attitude." I don't why this stage can be so challenging, but I know that a lot of growth and change is happening. I honestly, would rather deal with toddlers than teens.
Unfortunately, children grow up, and we as parents have to learn to grow and change with them.I found this very effective technique in dealing with attitudes in children of any age, and it also helps eliminate the problem in the long run as well. It is found in John Maxwell's book, Developing the Leader Within Youon page 111.
"We learned a long time ago that the most effective way to change our children's attitudes is to work on their behaviors. But when we tell one of our children,"Change your attitude," the message is too general and the change we want is unclear. A more effective approach is explaining behaviors that signify bad attitudes. If we help them change their behaviors, the attitudes will change on their own. Instead of saying to our kids," Get a grateful attitude," we ask them to give one compliment to every member of the family each day. As this becomes a habit in their lives, the attitude of gratitude follows."
Something else that helps me when working with children is realizing that my attitude is their attitude. If I notice that everyone is cranky and irritable, I need to stop and do an attitude check because I am probably the problem not them. If I am being irritable, demanding, and not giving out much praise, that is exactly what I am going to get in response.
On the other hand, if one of my kids is just having a bad day, me being on him all day long doesn't help him have a better day and he certainly can't snap out of it with my attitude. Whereas, if I am patient and kind with him, regardless of his spirit, he will eventually come around. We all have bad days, kids too, and they just need a little love and patience to help them get over it.
I know that sometimes I get in a rut with my attitude and just can't get over it. When this happens, it is something much deeper. It is more often than not a thinking problem. If there is something that I allow myself to think negatively about, I won't be able to change my attitude. I have to stop and realize that my thinking is the problem.
I am going to use a list in John Maxwell's book, Developing the Leader Within You because it explains the process more clearly than I could. This list is found on page:108, and he explains every one in detail. It is definitely worth reading.
- Identify Problem Feelings
- Identify Problem Behavior
- Identify Problem Thinking
- Identify Right Thinking
- Make a Public Commitment to Right Thinking
- Develop a Plan for Right Thinking
I know that just looking at the list above, it looks like a lot of work, and it is. Our attitudes should be something that we work on all the time. Why? Because your attitude will make or break you, it is as simple as that. Your wrong attitude choice, not anything that happens to you, will ruin your life. (paraphrased from John Maxwell)
Many times people tend to think that certain people are happy all the time because they have an easy life, but if you took the time to talk with them, you would realize they probably have more problems than you. The only difference is that they chose to go through it with a different attitude. "God chooses what we go through. We choose how we go through it." Viktor Frankl I don't exactly remember where I first read this, but it has stuck with me ever since, and when I am having a bad attitude, it is an encouragement to change it.
The lines on your face after a certain age, show what type of person you are. If you ever look at some elderly people, their face looks angry and frustrated, even though they may be happy at the moment. While others, look happy, while they may be sad. In their youth, they trained their face to look that way, by continually putting it into a smile or a frown. When I get older, I don't want my grandchildren to be afraid of me, because I just look grumpy. I want the testimony of my life to be one of happiness and an overcoming spirit, not one of anger and bitterness.
In conclusion, if you want your children to have a great attitude, model it for them and instill in them habits of gratefulness.