Raising Positive Kids

By Nora Heston Tarte

For me, one of the most draining parts of parenting is the negativity. It’s the whining and complaining, the constant tattling and “he’s touching meeeeee” coming from the backseat. It’s not so much that I need peace and quiet—the volume is fine if it comes in the form of singing songs and yelling niceties.

I noticed after my son started preschool that the negativity was seeping into all parts of our day. I’d pick him up from school and immediately be hit by a barrage of complaints about who did what to him that day and how much he didn’t like it. I couldn’t take it anymore and I was starting to worry this negative Nancy attitude would stick. So, I decided to do something about it and launched mission impossible: raise a positive kid.

Model the Behavior

We all know that our kids are sponges. They pick up on what we do every day. While we may not feel like we are being negative, even the smallest sounds of frustration are often echoed in tiny voices. I started watching myself. I complained less, held in any road rage I may be feeling, and kept my annoyed sighs to a minimum. It had kind of a cool effect; not only was my son feeling more positive, but I was, too.

Change the mindset

When my son gets in a kick about telling me everything he didn’t like about his day, I encourage him to play the same game a different way. If he’s complaining about things he doesn’t like, I ask him to instead name 5 things he does like. If he insists he can’t come up with anything, I help out, but I make him participate, too.

Make it Habit

At the end of every day or every outing I ask my son what his favorite part was. Even if the day had hard parts, this reminds us that we should always walk away from the day with a positive perspective. I implement this practice as often as possible even asking what his favorite part of a movie was as we leave the movie theatre.

Encourage Kindness When the negativity is about other people, find ways to remind kids about the good of others. We can write note cards to friends we appreciate or reminisce on the nice things a friend has done in the past even if we’re currently feeling frustrated in that friendship.