My kids go through their seasons of attitude problems.
As parents, Edric and I have always felt that it was necessary to address any wrong attitude right away. My own parents were strict with me when it came to moodiness, temper, and bad attitude. They would always tell my siblings and I that we need to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and that wrong attitudes were selfish. They also trained us to remember the golden rule for relationships. The Bible says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I remember how one of our sons was a little moodier than the rest. In fact, he was the only one that ever had tantrums. He would throw a fit over a simple thing like not getting to eat a snack or being denied a certain toy. Edric and I recognized that this wasn’t a behaviour problem it was a heart problem. His attitude was not correct. He wanted to get his way and was upset when he didn’t. For a couple of months we worked to ERADICATE this attitude in him by making sure that he was disciplined for wrong attitude and given positive praise for correct attitude. It wasn’t easy because we chose to spank him or give him consequences when he did not obey, but by God’s grace, he learned that he is not allowed to be “fussy.”
I encourage parents not to be intimidated by the attitude of their children, especially when their child is strong-willed. It is our responsibility to train our children and this includes helping them recognize selfish, self-centered behaviour and perspectives, and changing for the better. We don’t spank for too many things, but we spank for things like heart issues.
My mom and dad often give parenting seminars and this is one of the lessons they passed on to us – differentiate between a mistake of the mind and mistake of the heart. Only spank for a mistake of the heart. For example, if one of our kids forgot to brush his teeth even if hygiene is an important value, we don’t spank for that. But, if we told him to brush his teeth and he said, “no” in defiance then we would spank for that.
When it comes to correcting bad attitude, we also say, “have a good attitude” and encourage them to smile. They may struggle and force a smile at first, but when they do it, we reward them with praise. And after awhile, we no longer have to spank for bad attitude, we simply say, “show me good attitude” and they will smile and their countenance will soften in response.
Just remember, don’t let bad attitudes linger and harden the heart of your child. If you ignore or allow wrong attitudes, your child will believe they can get away with it and self-centeredness will become a habit.