Kids Attitude: Can Parents Change This?
"Kids attitude!" is the answer I get most often when I ask parents what they want their children to change. Most parents think that they can punish and reward their children into changing their attitude, but is this really possible?
Before we can begin to address this issue, we have to look at what causes a bad attitude. Of course, the question is where to start. We live in an increasingly complex society and many factors contribute to the way kids act today. For instance, many parents blame the media and all the violence and disrespect for authority on television shows and in video games. Others blame permissive parents and their kids who serve as role models for other kids about what it's like to lead a self-entitled lifestyle and get whatever you want without having to work for it. These kids are full of excuses and seldom take responsibility for anything they do. Of course, you don't want your child to grow up to be like that.
The fear that their kids will grow up lazy, disrespectful and unwilling to work for things is what drives parents who see their kids going in the wrong direction. But parents make a big mistake when they think that they can change their kids attitude. Why? Because attitude is something that is internal, it is a feeling that is revealed through tone, body language and facial expressions. As an adult, you've probably lived long enough to know that you can't control how someone feels. In the same way, you can't control your kids attitude and for that matter, neither can he.
So as a parent how can you get your kid to change? The answer is simple: don't concern yourself with the child attitude and work on his behavior instead. While attitude is an internal process that you can't touch, you can set rules and consequences for behavior. Since changes in behavior are measurable, this is an area where your child can get quick feedback. Of course, the magic in all this is that as your child starts to change his behavior, his attitude will improve.
Behavioral change is created by setting limits and goals and defining acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. It is created by reinforcing milestones along the path to achievable goals and limiting behaviors that do not serve the child and those around him. Although this may sound fairly simple, most parents just don't know how to go about this. They don't know how to be firm without being harsh. They don't know how to be loving and flexible without enabling their kids. But these are exactly the qualities that kids need to help get their lives back on track.
This is why an understanding of behavioral change techniques is important knowledge for every parent. Obviously, it's not your fault that you aren't familiar with these techniques which are usually taught to graduate students who are studying to be therapists, social workers, psychologists and the like. You do not have to be a graduate student to understand motivation or how to use some simple skills which can make marked changes in your child's behavior and finally, your kids attitude.
So there's your answer: while behavior can be changed through an understanding of simple behavior modification techniques, child attitude can only be changed indirectly.
Laura Ramirez is an advocate of helping defiant, disrespectful kids get their lives back on track with an at-home behavioral program like Total Transformation which teaches parents simple and effective behavioral change techniques.
She is also the award-winning author of the parenting book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting which teaches parents how to raise kids to develop their strengths and lead fulfilling, productive lives.
Child Attitude - Parenting Articles