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How to Change Bad Attitudes

The last thing I want to do is give you the impression that changing a kid's attitudes is something that can be accomplished by spending a few minutes for a couple of days a week on it. We're talking serious time and energy here. This book (Don't Give Me That Attitude by Michele Borba, Ed.D.) provides you with specific research-based strategies, guidelines, steps to take, short- and long-term projects, in-depth advice, questionnaires, self-tests, checklists, and other tools and resources.

All the strategies you need to help you change your kid's attitude are provided in this book. But after working with hundreds of parents with these ideas, I'm convinced there are a few supplies and ideas that will enhance your makeover efforts. In fact, you will find many of these same principles in my book No More Misbehavin': 38 Difficult Behaviors and How to Stop Them. Readers responded so positively that I offer them again. I strongly recommend you follow the six key tasks of preparation each time you try a new makeover to achieve long-term attitude change.

Use an Attitude Makeover Journal.
Each makeover poses questions to help you think about your kid's attitude. I urge you to write your thoughts and action plan in what I call a Makeover Journal. It could be a nice leather journal or a plain spiral notebook; either is fine. Be sure to write in it consistently every day. You'll be able to reread your notations, see attitude patterns that you otherwise might have missed, as well as track your kid's progress. Even the most reluctant parents have told me that using a Makeover Journal has been invaluable for their efforts.

Talk to Essential Caregivers.
Consult those who know your kid well – other family, teacher, day care teachers, coach, scout leader, Sunday school teachers, clergy, babysitters – to find out their perspective on your kid's attitude. For instance, does your kid act the same way with them? What do they think is causing the bad attitude? How do they respond? Does it work? What suggestions do they have? When you develop any makeover plan, share it with them. The more you work together, the quicker you'll be in stopping the bad attitude. Consistency is a critical part of an effective makeover.

Track the Targeted Attitude.
An important makeover tool is a monthly calendar. Find one that has space for you to write a few sentences each day about your kid's makeover progress. For instance, note the date the attitude first began. Once the makeover begins, write each day the number of times your kid displays the attitude. If your plan is effective, you'll gradually see a decline in the frequency of bad attitudes, and you'll know your plan is working.

Read the Resources.
Following each makeover is a list of further readings. Some are for you, and others are for your child. They provide a more thorough background about the attitude and offer more helpful hints for your makeover. Read a selection or two each time you target an attitude to make over.

Form a Parent Support Group.
One of the best ways to use this book is by discussing these issues with other parents. You'll realize that other parents' kids have similar behavior problems as yours – which is always a bit comforting – as well as have the chance to hear their suggestions of what works or doesn't work in ridding bad behaviors. So form or join a group: any size is fine – even one other parent will do. Just make sure you all enjoy one another and will commit to meeting regularly.

Be Committed and Relentless.
Finally, do not stop until you see the kind of change you hope for. Yes, it will take time, but remember that your child did not develop this attitude overnight. Change in attitude or behavior usually takes a minimum of three weeks, so do not give up.

Take The Bad Attitude Intelligence Test to see how much you know about your children's bad attitudes, and find out how you can change them.


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.

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