“Chickery chick cha la cha la…” His positive attitude rang through the house.
He sang animatedly as he strummed his guitar. Standing 6 feet 5 inches tall, he always towered over us kids even as he sat and strummed.
“I want to sit in the front, I can’t hear him!” my younger brother yelled as he pushed me out of the way.
“WHINE PATROL! I hear WHINING! No whining allowed in this house. Wheeeee ooooo wheeeee oooo whine patrol is here.” Uncle Chuckie Adamson always had a way of turning a dramatic situation into a funny one. And, we always walked away learning something.
His approach was uncommon, but impactful. We learned whining wasn’t acceptable, but then he coached us to communicate differently. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I started to truly understand that positivity was a choice and having a positive outlook was a learned skill.
It is the furthest thing from easy! Now, with children, that positive outlook is even more important to me.
1. At bedtime, ask them their favorite part of the day.
Before my daughter was born, I had read an article about connecting with your children. It sparked a thought in my mind about how bedtime is such a precious time of the day and a perfect opportunity to foster a positive attitude. Bedtime sets the tone for the evening and even the next morning.
Thus “Our Favorite Part” was born.
At the end of every day, we say our prayers together and each of us shares our favorite part of the day to end our day on a positive note. It gives me such an adorable glimpse into their day and what matters to them, and helps me create more of those times for them.
2. Ask, “How did you handle that?” when they complain or tattle.
When my children come and share frustrations with me, typically when they are fighting with each other, my first question is always, “Ok, I understand. How did you handle it?” Even though they have heard it a million times, they stop and think about what they did.
3. Coach them to add “yet” after “I can’t do that” to instill positivity.
“I can’t do it” is a common phrase used by children, because they are building their confidence. They compare their current skills to those people, like their parents, whom have spent decades developing on their own. My 4-year-old received some dry erase drawing pads and was trying hard to find the end of the maze.
She piped up, innocently and partially giggling,
“I can’t do that, Mom! That’s hard!”
She had used that phrase before, but I hadn’t quite figured out how to address it aside from telling her not to say that…(which we all know how productive that is! ha!) I finally responded.
“Man, that one is hard. You might not be able to do it right now, but you will one day. Can you say, I can’t do that…yet?”
She smiled, laughed and copied me. Her whole attitude changed and she ended up figuring it out. It was so fun to see her positive attitude develop. Mom win!
4. Teach them that everything is fixable.
I deeply desire my children to see everything as an opportunity to grow. Fostering a mindset of seeing opportunities instead of roadblocks is crucial to success in life. So, the phrase “everything is fixable” is used daily in our house to help develop a positive attitude.
Today, my 4-year-old spilled her giant bag of Pirate’s Booty (thank you Costco!) everywhere. She started crying and I asked her if she thought there was a solution. She looked at me, let out a huge sigh, started picking it up and said,
“Yes, everything is fixable.”
Man, I know I annoy her, but I have to believe one day she will thank me. Right?!
5. If you say something negative, you owe me 3 positives.
This article makes me sound like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? I’m super fun, I swear. But, back to business.
Although 3 positives could NEVER create a positive attitude or undo a negative statement, it can help. A negative statement can so easily fly out of someone’s mouth and fuel more negativity. It puts a dark cloud over a beautiful day and leaves everyone within earshot feeling weighted down.
This past summer, my daughter said she did not enjoy the 4-wheeler ride because it wasn’t long enough. I told her I appreciated her sharing that, but that I would like to know 3 things she DID enjoy about the ride.
She struggled for 15 minutes to find 3 things she enjoyed, when so easily ONE negative comment flew out of her mouth.
It’s so easy for us to find one thing that we didn’t enjoy, and yet struggle to identify 3 things we are grateful for.
6. Don’t ‘let’ them win.
I never ‘let’ my kids win. I play fair, and if they win, awesome! But, I will never just back down and let them win.
I want them to find joy in the journey.
Allowing them to win only teaches them that winning is what should bring them joy. Instead, by teaching them to play fair and challenge themselves they start to find joy in the journey.
7. Follow your own rules.
It is so easy for us as parents to have certain rules for our kids, and eliminate them for ourselves. But, how is that helping them develop a positive attitude?
I’m talking to you. You, like me, who fed them fresh berries and avocado toast…and then popped a pizza in the oven for yourself after they went to bed.
You are their greatest role model. If they hear you complaining or being negative, they will naturally follow suit. My daughter caught me one day as I was trying to do a yoga pose I clearly couldn’t do…yet. I laughed and fell and said “well, I can’t do that one.” and she responded
“Maybe not yet, you can’t!”
Cue the mama tears.
Encouraging your kids to be open and communicative with you is so important and I try to avoid punishment for a negative attitude. I redirect by first empathizing and then coaching toward a positive attitude, because all anyone wants is to be heard. If you can hear them out and redirect, that is where I have had the most success!
How do you teach your kids to be positive? Tell us below!
Love, from the mama who’s still learning every day.