Dealing With Negative Attitudes

How to Raise Children With a Positive Attitude

Show your children how to look for the good in everything, counsels Dr. Michele Borba, author and parenting expert. Even hard situations probably have some sort of positive message or lesson hidden inside somewhere. Show your children how to find these nuggets and focus on them. For example, just because it's raining doesn't mean the day is ruined -- have a picnic indoors instead. Another example: Misplacing a toy may lead to reorganizing the toy closet and finding lots of forgotten treasures.

Help your children develop their gifts and strengths – everyone has them. Perhaps your child is artistic or has a gift for music. Maybe your child enjoys animals or loves to construct. Some people have strong people skills and other people are more introverted. As you discover the intrinsic and amazing traits about your children, support them as they develop them. This might include setting goals, taking classes or celebrating efforts.

Teach your children that it’s hard work and effort that counts more than the final outcome or the result. If a person puts as much effort as possible into a goal or project, this is the success – it doesn’t matter what the precise result looks like. Hand in hand with this principle, make sure your children know that failure is permissible, counsels No one ever learns or grows without making mistakes.

Express feelings when they come up – both positive and negative. Show your children how to talk about negative feelings such as anger, fear and sadness. Give them words to describe these feelings and then make time to listen when children need to talk. Guide children through the process of expressing feelings respectfully, working toward resolution and then moving forward positively. Wallowing in old feelings will not provide a positive attitude in the present.

Provide positive feedback and praise when you see behaviors and actions that you desire. Praise the action, not the person, for the most effective results, suggests the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. You might say, "I love how you helped your brother find his book" or "I can see how hard you worked on this art project!"

Negativity In Teens

Be an Example

Examine your own habits and words. Do they cause your teen to emulate you and your own feelings about what is going on around you? Make a point to make positive statements about even the unfortunate events that occur to you or your family. “One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be,” according to early childhood educator Carol B. Hillman.

Supply Reading Materials

Many uplifting books and novels are out there for teens and parents. "The Power of Positive Thinking for Young People," by Norman Vincent Peale, is a classic with suggestions and steps to becoming more confident and optimistic. "Mind Coach: How to Teach Children and Teenagers to Think Positive and Feel Good," by Daniel G. Amen, focuses on negative thoughts that hold a teen back from his potential.

Pave the Way

Make a point of introducing your teen to the positive elements of life. An uplifting movie, an inspirational concert or an insightful seminar with a motivational speaker can all help diminish pessimism and negativity from a teen's outlook. Introduce your teen to the small things we take for granted: a beautiful fall day, a spectacular view or an unexpected visit from a friend or family member.

Teach Gratitude

Become a role model in gratitude. It is hard to be negative when the sun is shining, you are healthy and alive, and you are surrounded by loved ones. Teach your teen to celebrate the small victories and beauty that surrounds her. Point out these occurrences and surroundings to her throughout the day to help make her mindful of the multitude of things she has to be grateful for.


Sometimes when a teen is being negative, he simply wants to be heard. Listen without being judgmental or critical. Make suggestions only if he asks for them and refrain from inserting your own comments and suggestions unless you feel they are welcomed. Psychologist Carl Pickhardt states, "The basis for the negative mindset is the early adolescent's rejection of herself as a child" so don't take it personally when she develops a negative attitude -- be a supportive and caring ear for all of her frustrations and concerns, according to an article at

How to Deal With Kids Who Are Negative and Confrontational

Negative Kids

Avoid giving your negative child attention for being chronically unhappy because that might increase his pessimism, and you might unknowingly teach him to manipulate others with his negative attitude, according to Accept his personality and build your own patience and tolerance levels so your child will feel accepted and loved, which can contribute to decreased negativity.

Change the subject if your negative child complains excessively or becomes argumentative. Allow her to express her feelings and intervene, if necessary, by asking her to tell you one positive occurrence that happened today.

Find the likable traits and focus on them. Although he is unlikely to naturally respond to circumstances from a positive perspective, remind yourself that he has positive traits that he brings to your family. Remind him of these traits occasionally because it likely will encourage him to behave that way more often.

Confrontational Kids

Curb your emotional response to your child. By now you might have noticed what buttons your child is pushing that cause you to behave in a reactive way, according to the article, "Dealing With Oppositional Behavior," published on Your Family Stay calm, in control and focused on the topic at hand.

Discuss issues in a calm, supportive manner, and consistently enforce rules in a firm but kind way. Avoid fighting with your child just because she confronts you and tries to start an argument; it doesn't mean you have to take the bait, according to Once you've responded to your child, tell her the conversation is over and leave the room.

Give your child a choice if the confrontational behavior is in regards to the desire for control over his responsibilities. For example, you can tell your son he is allowed to play video games for an hour each day. An appropriate question would be, "Would you like to play video games from 4 to 5 p.m. and do your homework after dinner or do your homework after school and play video games from 6:30 to 7:30? Let me know what you choose." This gives him the ability to schedule his own time after weighing his options, and increases his sense of autonomy.


Spend time away from your negative or confrontational child to recharge, release tension and reduce your stress levels.

The Best Parental Attitude to Make Kids Appreciate Education

School Involvement

Children benefit if their parents have a positive attitude toward learning and are involved in school life. According to the Michigan Department of Education, when parents are involved in school work, such as supporting school learning through activities such as reading at home, then children will have greater academic success, higher school attendance and higher self-esteem. recommends asking questions about what your child did at school as a good way to support learning and show interest.


The level of school success is strongly linked to the expectations parents have on their children to succeed, with children performing better the higher parental expectations are. Having a positive attitude towards these expectations and encouraging your child to succeed will help him to appreciate his education. The San Diego County Office of Education says these expectations should be high, but achievable and age-related. Sharing his successes with friends and family members will also boost his self-esteem and help him to develop a positive attitude towards learning and school.

Attitude to Homework

The Harvard Family Research Project says that the more time children spend on homework the greater their school success, so when parents have a positive attitude towards homework and check homework is being done then their children will benefit. Children should have a quiet area to work, and doing homework should be part of the daily routine. Parents can also show an interest by offering encouragement, help and guidance when necessary.

Home Life

Parents should encourage regular reading at home. A home where parents read regularly will benefit children, as children are more likely to take an interest in books. also says parents can support their children's education if they let children write or draw without any particular educational goal in mind apart from being creative and expressing themselves. Pens and coloring materials should be in an accessible place, so kids can write or draw whenever they feel inspired.

Negative Attitude Help for Parents

Causes of Negativity in Parents

Figuring out what underlies a negative attitude can keep it from coming back. Parents dealing with a negative attitude in themselves can prevent children from adopting a negative outlook. Troubles with bills, relationship problems, family, illness or work are common sources of frustration and stress. Ignoring or leaving a problem unresolved can cause a parent to adopt a negative attitude. Make a list of what leaves you feeling stressed or upset. Knowing what causes the problem can be half the problem.

Causes of Negativity in Children

Look in the mirror, Mom and Dad -- if Junior is often grumpy, he may have learned it by observing you or another relative. Negativity may also appear in children who are suffering from depression or low self-esteem. Talk to your kids -- older children may be able to explain what's causing bitterness or negativity. Friendships, problems with teachers, work, or life events like a move, divorce or death could contribute to a child's negativity. Some children may be more negative than others by nature, but parents can still encourage children to adopt a more positive approach to life.

Solving a Parent's Negativity

Keep conscious of what you say and how you say it, and make an effort to focus on the positive in every situation. Learning to focus on how to solve a problem, rather than fixating on anger or resentment caused by a problem, can lead to a better outcome for everyone involved. Incorporate a healthy diet and regular exercise into your lifestyle, which can help you manage stress and combat negativity. Take a proactive approach to problem-solving; communicate your stresses to others to keep resentment from building. A therapist or counselor can also help family members adopt a more positive outlook.

Helping Children with Negativity

Life can be complicated -- even for the youngest members of the household. If your child insults her abilities, you might say, "Your teacher and I think you do well in school. Spelling is a challenge for you, but we will work on that together." Applaud your child's effort, even if the outcome is not ideal. Give your kids plenty of love, attention and encouragement to boost self-esteem, and make an effort to listen to their problems. If your child throws a tantrum when she is angry, avoid yelling at her to stop. Say to her, "I can see you are upset. Talking it out instead can help us solve what is bothering you."

Dealing With Teenagers Who Have Attitudes

Effectively Communicating

Before dealing with anything, parents should try to talk with their teen to understand the reasons for a poor attitude. Because some attitudes come from poor parent-child relationships, communication is often the first step in resolving problems. Keep your cool when teenagers want to instigate an argument, and instead change the conversation to ask your teen the reason for their attitude. For example, while your gut response to your teenage daughter’s “You always blame me” comment might be “That’s not true,” realize that this response may escalate conflict. Rather, try asking her why she thinks you are placing blame.

Teaching by Example

Teens with attitudes may be troublesome, and they may be children, but they certainly aren’t stupid. Teens are smart enough to see through empty threats and hypocritical comments. Parents can strengthen communication by thinking before they speak. If you suspect your teen has a problem but he is denying it, be honest and tell him you are only concerned for him. Some parents make the mistake of starting a conversation with leading questions such as “I know you have a problem” or “I can tell you are upset.” Such questions usually shut down a teen’s willingness to communicate. By being genuine and showing your teen respect, he will follow your example by being respectful back.

Not Being a “Friend”

Many parents think being a teen’s friend will fix a poor attitude. Teasing is met with teasing, and criticism is met with criticism. While it is tempting to fly under the attitude radar by “befriending” your teen, the fact remains that your relationship is a parent-child relationship. You are not your teen’s friend, and acting as such hampers your ability to communicate your values and expectations as a parent. Parents are the rule-setters and need to place reasonable limits on their children, even in adolescence.

Avoiding Labels

Teens often ignore your rules and make their own. When this happens, many parents use labels to show their teens how they feel, calling them names such as “selfish,” “greedy” or “lazy.” John Gottman, psychologist and author of “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child,” recommends parents avoid labels and speak in terms of specific actions. After all, your daughter can deny being lazy, but she cannot deny ignoring her chores. After you have established the facts, it’s easier to resolve issues.

How to Have a Better Attitude for Teens

Encourage gratitude in your home, suggests the Disney Family website. A bad attitude often comes from your teen not being appreciative or not recognizing the positive parts of his life. When you hear him whine about homework, remind him to be grateful he lives in a country where education is so readily available. If he's cranky about washing up after dinner, let him hear your gratitude toward having enough to eat. Alternatively, you could ask him to write down the things for which he's most grateful in a journal or blog to help him have a more positive attitude.

Provide meaningful experiences for your teen that help to adjust his attitude, learn about the world and see things from a different point of view. Travel, volunteer work or joining community programs can all help your teen think about more than just himself, which can result in a more positive attitude overall.

Refuse to respond to your teen when he's in a bad mood, whiny or negative. When you hear him start to whine or use a bad attitude toward you, simply say something like, "It seems like you're in a bad mood. You can come talk to me when you have a better attitude." Simply refusing to respond to a bad attitude teaches your teen that it's unacceptable in your home and that he'll get a better response if he tries a more positive approach.

Offer positive reinforcement when your teen uses proper manners, a positive attitude and respectful words toward you and other people in his life. Taking the time to listen to your teen and give him kudos for a good attitude helps him feel valued and respected, notes the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. Praise your teen for a positive attitude and he'll be more likely to try the same behavior again in the future.

Check your own attitude. If you have a surly point of view, you're constantly complaining and nagging or have a generally negative attitude, it's only natural that your teen follow suit. If you hear yourself being negative, apologize to your teen and try and restate your opinion with a more positive point of view so you're setting a good example for your child.

How to Handle a Cranky Child

Rule out any possible health issues before you address your child's behavior directly. Cranky kids are often overtired, overstimulated or even hungry. By making sure that your child gets the 10 to 11 hours of sleep he needs each night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, fatigue isn't a factor. If your child is consistently cranky, talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of a behavioral or mental disorder.

Refuse to engage with your child when he starts being cranky, negative or disrespectful. Even children as young as 5 can understand that a cranky attitude isn't acceptable. If your child starts whining or behaving negatively, try "I'd love to talk to you about this, but not if you're going to be whining. Let me know when you're ready and I'll be here." This sets a precedent for behavior and attitude in your home.

Give your child some space when he's in a bad mood. Adding more stimulation, asking what's wrong or trying to communicate with an unwilling participant is likely to make your child more annoyed. Instead, try a self-led time-out, where your child spends some time in his room with a book or art supplies. Space and time alone can help your child calm down and get rid of his bad mood.

Offer positive reinforcement whenever your child is in a good mood, uses proper manners or exhibits a positive attitude, suggests, a website of the American Academy of Family Physicians. When your child realizes that a positive mood is better received than a cranky one, he may be more likely to look on the bright side. Be specific with your praise so your child knows exactly what he's doing right, such as "Thanks for playing with your little brother. I know you wanted to play your video game on your own, but I appreciate you keeping a good attitude."

Check your own behavior and set a good example for behavior in your home. If you're often cranky, overtired and negative, there's a good chance that behavior can rub off on your child. By staying upbeat and positive, you show your child that it's what's expected in your home.

How to Correct Attitudes in Teens

Focus on your child's behavior, not the attitudes, suggests Megan Devine, parental support line advisor with the Empowering Parents website. You can't force anyone to change an attitude, including a teenager. Instead, focus on what you can resolve and target -- your teen's behavior or lack thereof.

Institute rules of conduct that you will insist your child obey, suggests the Iowa State University. These "house rules" will be the requirements you set for your teenager. He must bring himself into subjection and obedience of these rules or he will deal with specific consequences for misbehavior.

Create a connected consequence for each rule, if broken. Generally, consequences are most effective when they have a direct connection and correlation with the rule. Detached and disconnected rules lack logic -- especially to teens. Teens may understand and feel more motivated to cooperate with rules and consequences when they make sense, offers the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line.

Detach from your child's anger and other negative emotions that he might use to try to control situations. Explain to your child that he doesn't need to agree with or like the rules, but he does need to comply or experience consequences, advises Devine.

Offer positive reinforcement and encouragement when you notice your child's attitude improving and when you see your child making positive choices. Verbal feedback and praise of the positive attitude can be an effective way to motivate people of any age.

Treat your teenager with respect to encourage a cooperative and respectful attitude from him. When you treat your child with respect, he may raise his behavior up to the level you set as a natural response. Even if he makes mistakes, he can learn from them and move forward using his experiences to shape future decisions and activities.