Any parent who is dealing with a kid with a bad attitude wonders how to adjust that behavior, stat. Eye rolling, snapping and that snotty tone all make you anxious to turn your kid back into his previously sweet self. You can adjust your kid’s attitude problem, but you have to ensure that your own frustration and anger with the situation don’t get in the way of making positive changes.
Set a reasonable goal for an improvement in your kid’s attitude, advises Carole Banks, a parental support line advisor and social worker for Empowering Parents. If you start the process of adjusting his attitude and expect that tomorrow he will wake up a practically new child filled with respect and kindness, you are going to be disappointed. Realistically, you might see some attitude changes soon but for the most part you’re going to need time and patience to change all the negativity.
Make a list of consequences that correlate with every misbehavior you want to change about your kid’s attitude, advises Dr. Ruth Peters, Ph.D. in her book, “Laying Down the Law” for Today Parenting. If you want to put an end to the eye rolling, let her know that each time you catch her in the act of rolling her eyes, you will take away the privilege of watching television for the rest of the day. Every time she uses that disrespectful tone you dislike so much, you will ground her from leaving the house for one day. When she knows that certain behaviors come with specific consequences, she’s more likely to stop using those behaviors so she doesn’t have to suffer.
Stop taking his attitude problem personally, advises Banks. His attitude is not something he personally developed just for you. His attitude is a combination of his age, his peer influences, his stress level and his own confidence level. Don’t take it personally that he doesn’t care if his room is clean and he goes on about how he doesn’t get why you are so obsessed with it being clean when it’s just going to get messed up again soon. He’s not directing his feelings at you, he’s just at an age where he really doesn’t care about the cleanliness of his room. When you stop taking his behavior personally, you are able to approach it rationally, which yields better results.
Be consistent. If your kid’s attitude problem includes eye rolling and you only call him out on it and enforce consequences when other people are around to witness it but you ignore it at home, he’s not learning anything. The only lesson he gets from your inconsistency is that he may or may not get in trouble when he misbehaves, and there’s always a chance that he’ll get away with misbehaving.