Give me an "A" word regarding children/parenting: a plethora of answers will ensue depending on station, perspective or latest interaction. "Applesauce," "affectionate," "active" and "attitude" are the words will tumble out. Children/parenting cover a range of words and emotions everyday. The word that makes life manageable and sweeter is "Attitude."
Humans are born with temperaments — a natural predisposition. But, from angelic to grumpy, sulky to angry, attitudes are changeable. This is Good News! Recall the parental phrase, "You need an attitude adjustment?" Turns out, it is scientifically and humanistically correct. Sadie's surly flinging of her applesauce across the kitchen, Orville's ornery exploits regarding the boy next door, Hannah's "huffs" of disgruntledness at her mother and Ian's irritableness at life in general, can all be changed with consistent parental instruction.
1 First step: Parents, adjust your own attitude. Children are mirrors and imitators. They reflect what they see and hear — the good and bad. Teach yourself to look for good, not dwell on the negative. It's the glass half-full or empty scenario. If the glass is always half-empty, you will be unhappy, dissatisfied and have a negative attitude. If the glass is half-full, a happy, grateful, positive/pleasant attitude will follow. Do you want to live a life of unhappiness or happiness? You choose which perspective to view life from. It will absolutely dictate your attitude toward every situation you find yourself in. Truth is, you teach your child to view life the same way.
Dr. Christine Carter, sociologist at UC Berkley, who studies happiness and directs the Greater Good Science Center, espouses that attitude and happiness are taught. It is a behavior that is learned from surroundings; for children, primarily, taught by parents. From research, she states that children and parents can learn to be joyful and happier.
If the glass is always half-empty, you will be unhappy, dissatisfied and have a negative attitude. If the glass is half-full, a happy, grateful, positive/pleasant attitude will follow.
2 Second step: Teach yourself and children to be appreciative. Appreciating what you have, beginning with life itself, lends to positive attitudes. Imagine each morning hearing, "Mom is so happy to see you this morning. I love waking up to your face!" What a great morning attitude booster. Versus, "Hurry up, we're late." Appreciating what you have puts attitudes in a positive perspective.
Carter says, "Practice little things that bake happiness into your children's everyday lives." One of her favorite suggestions and starting points is to have children, each night at bedtime, name three good things that happened to them that day. She ascertains that this fosters feelings of appreciation and creates a habit of feeling grateful — teaching children to see the glass as half-full. Appreciative and grateful young hearts yield happier and more positive attitudes.
Next time they throw a fit, pout in the corner, lash out in anger or cop a "'tude," don't accept or excuse their disposition. Wipe off the applesauce and work on adjusting the attitude. In the long run, everyone will be happier.