If we start the day with “woe-is-me” energy, frustrated, banging things around, and miserable for no good reason, we channel negativity from within, reinforcing a downward spiral in all our connections. By allowing bad attitudes to fester, we shut doors and limit possibilities. Our attitudes direct our life’s path.
Children Learn Fast
Each stage of childhood introduces new layers and complexities; as children learn and grow, seeds of a value system take root. Experiences of youth help kids start connecting the dots between “cause-and-effect” and “behavior-and-consequence.”
Our children are always watching us. By the example we set for them, mothers teach which attitudes should be imitated. If we model bad attitudes or inappropriate behaviors, we affect their growth and development more than we will ever know.
Sometimes, we make excuses for a child’s bad attitudes or behaviors; our “little angel” can do no wrong. If we habitually blame others or “gloss over” these situations, we undermine accountability, further perpetuating bad attitudes and bad behaviors. Don’t be that mom. Of a mother’s many duties, it’s ok to express disappointment, make the connection between behavior and consequence, and disprove the myth that children can do whatever they want.
One Possible Story
Imagine Bobby, a charismatic and intellectually gifted eight-year-old boy. One of the most popular kids in school, Bobby makes friends easily and consistently aces his classes. Unfortunately, Bobby spends more time fooling around than paying attention, isn’t very organized, and because everything is so easy for him, he doesn’t develop any meaningful study skills.
Fast forward to senior year in high school. While Bobby’s quick wits are helping him scrape by, sloppy homework, poor study habits, and below-average SAT scores have finally caught up with him. Lots of Bobby’s friends are being accepted into excellent colleges, but he hasn’t been accepted into any of his choices. Depression is starting to kick in, and at 17-years-old, Bobby regrets mismanaging his once strong potential. While he cannot undo the past, he can take charge of the now and change his future, it’s just going to take a lot more effort than if he were doing the work all along.
The Critical “Behavior-Consequence Connection”
One of the best ways to effect change is to internalize the connection between behavior and consequences. Good study behaviors lead to homework completion, better grades, increased knowledge, better preparedness, more class participation, and heightened academic self-confidence, all of which work together to foster attitudinal advantages of interest and enjoyment. One of easiest ways mothers can help children shed a bad attitude—and develop a good one—is to consistently deliver the “consequence” from the “behavior-and-consequence” connection / the “effect” from the “cause-and-effect” connection. Design rewards and consequences that align with whatever is at stake; give children positive or negative skin in the game. With a bad attitude, children see chores and challenges as problems to be to be avoided. With a good attitude, they see potential for achievement and accomplishment.
As actively engaged parents, we will encounter thousands of teachable moments to reinforce the “behavior-and-consequence connection.” We don’t even have to necessarily discuss THEIR attitudes and behaviors—sometimes examples from the lives of others can be more useful. When a mother and child can get side-by-side and discuss someone ELSE’S situation, we can avoid toxicity from the criticism or condemnation that make people defensive and stop listening. Exploring the “behavior-and-consequence” outcomes of others can help mom share insights on how and why our attitudes determine the quality of our lives—all without throwing any shade at the little one.
The Physical Power of Our Thoughts
So often, thoughts manifest into words and actions. If we find ourselves struggling with negative thoughts, remember this: our children will imitate the model we set for them. The best way we can help our children avoid developing a bad attitude is by showcasing a good attitude. Mothers give children a significant advantage in life by aligning with optimism, avoiding negative thinking, and teaching—in both word and deed—that our thoughts have physical power over the course of our lives. American author, Sylvester McNutt III, said, “Everything in life starts with your mindset first and your actions second. Your actions follow your thoughts, your beliefs, and ideas. To make a shift, to free your energy: start with getting your mind right, and then, take action.”
American author, Zig Ziglar, said, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire; you can’t go anywhere until you change it.” Maternal leadership can instill the confidence that a good attitude is key to lifelong enrichment; we should also teach the flip side: a bad attitude is a fast-track to a miserable life. The importance of our attitude might best be explored side-by-side, mother-next-to-child, observing social situations, asking questions, listening, and having conversations that hit home on the cause-and-effect of things in this world. By making a good attitude an integral part of our family’s value system, we diffuse chaos and shift energies towards order.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
—Proverbs 15:1 KJV
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PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.