Attitude Makeover: Fresh
If not nipped right away, fresh-mouthed youths can dish out countless rude and insulting barbs. Their messages are always disrespectful and often quite hurtful. Each sassy, insolent comment wounds more than just the intended victim: they also damage the sender's capacities for empathy and respect. What they desperately need are quality experiences to counter the harm to their moral growth.
An easy way to develop a good attitude is to acknowledge our kids when we see them using it. Studies show that most of the time we do the opposite: instead of "catching" our kids being respectful, we point out when they are acting incorrectly. Any time you see or hear your child demonstrating good attitudes, acknowledge them and express your pleasure. Here are a few examples:
"Jimmy, you spoke in such a nice, sweet voice just now. Good for you!"
"Jenna, I appreciate how you stopped to think before you spoke to your grandmother. Thank you."
"I appreciate the apology, Levar. You hurt my feelings this morning. I also know that it's hard changing a bad habit, but I see that you are trying."
The First 21 Days
Start a Family Instant-Replay Plan every time your kid says something fresh: stop, call a time-out, and help him find a more appropriate and respectful way of expressing what's on his mind. In the heat of the moment, he may not realize the hurtful impact of his fresh attitude even though what he's trying to say may be an honest attempt to express his feelings, concerns, or problems. For example, when he says, "You're clueless," he may be really trying to tell you that because you're of a different generation, you don't know what it's like to be in his shoes when dealing with the stresses and pressures of teachers and peers for example:
Mom: You called me "clueless," and that really hurts. Can you say that again politely?
Kid: Well, um, you don't know what you're talking about.
Mom: Try that again. What exactly happened to you that I don't know?
Kid: Lauren sent an instant message to her class buddy list that I'm a wimp. These days stuff like that can get around so quickly.
Mom: Okay, now I understand why you're so upset. So can you replay that part about me being clueless?
Kid: Mom, you wouldn't understand unless you learned to use the computer.
Attitude Makeover Pledge
How will you use these steps and ideas to achieve long-term change? On the lines below, write exactly what you agree to do within the next twenty-four hours to begin changing your kid's attitude so he is less sassy and fresh and more respectful and considerate.
The New Attitude Review
All attitude makeovers take hard work, constant practice, and parental reinforcement. Each step your child takes toward change may be a small one, so be sure to acknowledge and congratulate every one of them along the way. It takes a minimum of twenty-one days to see real results, so don't give up! And if one strategy doesn't work, try another. Write your child's weekly progress on the lines below. Keep track of daily progress in your Attitude Makeover Journal.
From Don't Give Me That Attitude by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2004 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Buy the book at www.amazon.com.