Five Ways to Change Kid’s Bad Attitudes

It’s funny how kid’s bad attitudes can have a HUGE impact on your entire family. If you’ve ever been around kids, you know this to be true. Maybe the kid’s bad attitudes reared its ugly head as you tried to get her out the door to Grandma’s house, or church, or grocery shopping. Or your typically happy-go-lucky kid crossed his little arms and turned up his nose at the pancakes you made this morning. What is with the kid’s bad attitudes?

Maybe even YOU have had a bad attitude that turned into the whole house having a bad attitude (To be perfectly honest, that’s what usually happens around here!). Whatever your situation may be, here are FIVE ways to change kid’s bad attitudes (or yours). The first three are preventative steps; but can certainly be used during kid’s bad attitudes. The last two are sure to help you ALL through this situation and onto the other side!

1. Breathe to change kids bad attitudes

Of course you are always breathing – you are alive, right?  But have you ever noticed that when you feel stressed out, you actually PAUSE your breathing?  You know this is happening when you feel yourself exhale (sometimes loudly or forcefully!) after a particularly stressful event has taken place.  So, this first step is all about taking intentional, mindful deep breaths from your belly when a stressful situation presents itself.  And do this at least three times.  It is also important to have scheduled, regular times throughout the day when you just stop and breathe mindfully.  Think about it like building a “muscle” that you need to strengthen when you don’t need it, so that it can be ready to be used for when you DO need it. 


2. Check Yo’ Self to change kids bad attitudes

look at your self

How’s YOUR own attitude these days? Do you tend to be critical of people or situations you encounter at the grocery store, while driving, or throughout your work day? Or are you generally grateful in most things, being able to see the best in others?

What about when there is a big gap between what you expect and the actual behavior? Do you tend to fill it with believing the best or assuming the worst? I wonder why that is?

Remember that YOU are your child’s first and most influential teacher…so what are you teaching your children?

If you recognize you’ve had a less-than-positive attitude, repent, tell your children you realize you’ve had a bad attitude about (name it), and let them know you are going to work on it.

Modeling this humble attitude will help your children own their mistakes and help them accept your corrections as well.


3. Notice to change kids bad attitudes

To “NOTICE” means to recognize and SAY OUT LOUD the behavior you are seeing to help everyone stay in the present moment. You often spend your time thinking about what you should have done, or should be doing or should do next. Quit “shoulding” all over yourself! Stay in the moment by noticing what actually IS happening. Simply naming what your child is doing notices it, bringing everyone to the forefront of their minds and increasing awareness in the present moment. This may feel and sound silly at first, but it is going to make a huge difference!

Check out this quick Mom Minute to find out more about “noticing.”

Want to know what that sounds like?

Imagine your children are playing quietly with blocks in the living room. You may think, “I don’t want to mess this up. I’ll just keep quiet and pray they keep playing well with each other.” However, if they were fighting with each other and tossing blocks around the room, you’d be sure to say, “What are you doing!? What should you be doing!? You know you aren’t supposed to throw blocks! Why can’t you just play quietly together!?”

You are ALREADY “noticing” things – but typically it’s the negative ones that get your attention. How would it be if your noticing sounded more like this, “Look at you guys! You’re playing together with the blocks in the living room.” Or “You threw your trash away!” Or “You found your shoes!” Or, “It seems like you don’t want to clean up right now.” You may even find yourself saying, “I am peeling the potatoes….I am boiling water…I am mashing the potatoes.”


4. Empathize to change kids bad attitudes

There is little that aggravates a bad situation more than when someone tries to “fix” it and you just want to be heard! Think about the last time life didn’t go your way….got it? Maybe you called your best friend to tell her all about it. Being your friend, she probably DIDN’T say, “He is such a jerk! You should just leave/quit/find another school/etc.” INSTEAD, she probably said something like, “That SUCKS! I hate that this is happening to you 😢. ” Well, it’s the same way with our kids!

They don’t want you to “fix” it – sometimes there IS no fixing it because they just have to do what you told them to do! But they DO want you to empathize with them: “You wish you could have ice cream before dinner and you can’t. That’s hard.” “You wish you didn’t have to stop playing with your friend and go home. I wish you didn’t have to, either.” “It’s hard when you have to do something you don’t want to do. I understand that.” It does NOT mean you give in to them (at all!). It DOES mean you let them know you UNDERSTAND their feelings. That you are in this together. Breathe. Hug. Breathe. Smile. Breathe. Love. Breathe.


5. Give Choices to change kids bad attitudes

If your child is kicking and screaming and crying on the floor, there is NO WAY he can make a choice in that moment. It is simply neurologically impossible. This is when YOUR breathing is going to be an absolute necessity to help calm BOTH of you. However, if she is stamping her feet, but TALKING – albeit negatively – you can offer two positive choices:

  • “Do you want to wear the red shoes or the blue shoes?”
  • She may say, “But I don’t WANT to go!” Breathe. And go back to #4
  • “I know you wish you didn’t have to go! I wish you didn’t have to either.”
  • Breathe. “Do you want to wear the red shoes or the blue ones?”
  • She may say, “NEITHER! I don’t want to go!” Breathe.
  • “I hear you. You wish you didn’t have to go. But you do. We both do.”
  • Breathe. “Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do and that stinks. But you can do it. I will help you.
  • Do you want to wear the red shoes or the blue ones?”

You may wonder if you are supposed to just go on and on asking them to choose. The short answer is, “Yes.”

The longer answer is to think about the times your kids have “worn you down” by asking for something over and over and over and over and over and….well, you get the idea! Haven’t you ever just said, “HERE! Take it and shut your mouth!!” Ok, maybe you never SAID that…but you probably thought it!

You do the SAME thing to them here. Just wear them down by offering the same two positive choices. Over and over and over and over again until one is chosen! Now, this will ONLY be successful if you are calm (remember to BREATHE), but I am SURE that this CAN work for you – much to your surprise at times!

Check out this video to hear about 5 ways to change a bad attitude:

Kate Fraiser is a Parent Coach with Connect Point Moms helping you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them. For quick and helpful parenting videos, find her on InstagramYouTubeTikTokor Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *