Seven Essential Secrets to Stopping Bad Attitudes

Michele Borba's picture

by Dr. Michele Borba

Can you stop your kid's manipulative, self-centered, rude ways and change their annoying, bad attitudes? Attitudes are learned, so they can be unlearned and stopped -- if parents use a few simple behavior principles. Here are some life changing strategies.

  1. PICK a problem. Start by choosing a reoccurring kid attitude, but make sure it's something you can change. For instance: Her guaranteed meltdown at grandmas. Her selfish sense of "entitlement." His annoying attention-getting whine. Then pick one -- no more than two-problems to work on at a time.

  2. Think POSITIVE. Your goal is to change your kid's attitude -- so you need to see the outcome. So think positively: Not "My family will stop yelling," but "We'll use all talk calmer." If you think positively you'll be more likely to stick to your goal because you'll see what the new attitude outcome looks like.

  3. Make a realistic PLAN. What have you been doing so far that hasn't worked? So what will you do instead? For instance: Your kid uses a whiney voice to get her way. So far, you give in. Your new plan: You will not respond to any whiney voice. Keep in mind: the more specific and realistic the plan, the more likely the change.

  4. Break plan into manageable PARTS. Set your goal into smaller more manageable parts. Not only will you keep trying with your makeover but you'll also be more likely to change the kid's bad attitude.

  5. PASS plan to other caregivers. Sharing the plan with caregivers (teacher, coach, grandma) gets everyone on board so change is faster. Your kid will also know you are really serious. "If you hit, you will go to time out." "We won't listen to a sassy voice.

  6. Chart your PROGRESS. Change occurs slowly, so you can lose sight of progress and think your plan isn't working. So track the behavior each day -- sassing, whining, hitting-on a calendar. If the plan is good, you'll gradually see the annoying behavior diminish and recognize change is happens.

  7. PERSIST at least 21 days. New behavior habits take a minimum of 21 days to change. So keep with your plan at least 21 days. Then celebrate your success -- it will happen so don't give up!

Michele Borba, Ed.D., is an internationally renowned educator recognized for her practical, solution-based parenting strategies to strengthen child's behavior, self-esteem, moral development, and build strong families. She is a sought-after motivational speaker an educational consultant to hundreds of schools. Dr. Borba frequently appears as a guest expert on television and radio. She has been interviewed by numerous publications and serves as an advisory board member for Parents magazine and for the U.S. Board of Education.

Dr. Borba's is the author of nineteen books including No More Misbehavin': 38 Difficult Behaviors and How to Stop Them; Building Moral Intelligence, cited by Publishers' Weekly as "among the most noteworthy of 2001"; Parents Do Make A Difference, selected by Child Magazine as "Outstanding Parenting Book of 1999,"; and Esteem Builders, used by 1.5 million students worldwide. Her latest book is Don't Give Me that Attitude!: 24 Selfish, Rude Behaviors and How to Stop Them. Dr. Borba is a former teacher and partner in a private practice for troubled youth. She lives in Palm Springs, Ca with her husband and three sons.

Copyright © Michele Borba. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.