The Biggest Impact: Attitude

I had the privilege of an impromptu conversation with my son’s teacher at my first PTO meeting last week, and I loved getting some light shed on my son’s school-life. It’s hard, isn’t it, to not know exactly what our children are doing while at school all day? Even the most open child can not give us the full picture of their school experience, so the best way to finish painting that picture is to either volunteer in the classroom or to talk to our child’s teacher.

His Kindergarten teacher said that she just loves him. That he is so smart. That he is learning very quickly. That he is participating in class. That he gets along with the other children. And that he has only gotten in “trouble” once, for talking when he needed to stop talking. (I have no idea where he gets the chattiness from, I thought, after I was shushed for talking to his teacher when they were trying to start the PTO meeting…). The only thing that she said that was slightly negative about him was his sassiness, which she made to sound like she sees it more amusing rather than an issue.

She gave me an example of during their “special friend” portion of the day, where they select one classmate to be the friend of the day, and all of the other children get to ask that child questions such as their favorite color, or food, or TV show. My son is really into sports. He watches Sports Center while getting ready for school most mornings. He is constantly playing football, indoors or outdoors. He makes up his own plays and writes them down on paper and keeps a scoreboard on his dry-erase board. He loves all sports, but he has a particular passion for football during the football season. (Incidentally, I was packing his lunch in the kitchen this morning when I heard him yelling and getting upset in the family room. When I went to see what all the commotion was about, I saw that he was yelling, “Come on!! Green Bay HAD that! He HAD the BALL! The Packers should have WON!” at the replays of the Seattle vs. Green Bay controversial touchdown during last night’s game. Even the littlest of fans weren’t happy about that call!) But back to the “special friend” story, my son asked one classmate last week who his favorite football team was, and when the child replied, “The Rams,” my son gave him a “you’ve gotta be kidding me” look and then said with the utmost of sass, “No, I meant, college football.”

Where do children learn this sassiness from? I hear it in my son’s voice all-to-often. I hear it in other children when they play together. And if I’m honest with myself, I hear it in my own voice at times too. We sometimes use that “I know more than you do” tone as parents, so is it any wonder that our children use that it with us or their friends? It’s like a mirror pointing right back at me when he sasses me, saying, “This is how you sound when you talk like this.” As parents, we really have to be careful of not only what we say to our children, but how we say it. Because it all comes right back to us eventually. And sure I can tell him that I don’t like that tone, that it sounds disrespectful. But the best way to curb the sass from our children is to be conscious of the tone in our own voice, whether we are talking to them, or our spouse, or a friend on the phone. We have to model the kind of behavior that we would like to see in our children.

While we are talking about sassiness, there is another kind of attitude that has an even bigger impact on our child’s success, and that is the attitude with which we approach life. I hear a lot of people through social media, reality TV, blogs, etc. who have negative attitudes towards life. Sometimes it’s meant to be comical, and that’s okay for the sake of entertainment. But for some of those people, that attitude is real, and it’s really how they view their lives and the world around them. On any given day, something may go wrong. Sometimes we have a plan for our lives that just doesn’t ever seem to work out the way we want it to. But what has an even greater impact on whether we succeed or fail is the way that we approach the bad stuff. If we dwell on the things that go wrong, that’s just time taken away from the great things that are going on. When bills are piling up, you can’t just ignore them, but you can pay them off little-by-little and know that it’s just money. My husband helps me with that part of life more than anyone. Not only with the fact that he is supporting us financially right now, but that he has the type of attitude of money is just money. We will never have “enough” of it (because what’s “enough” is completely relative anyway), and we can’t take it with us when we go. And I’m starting to embrace it as a challenge instead of a burden. How can I save money? How can we enjoy life without spending money? My mom came to visit yesterday, and we spent an entire day enjoying the beautiful, natural world around us by hiking, talking, skipping rocks, touring visitor’s centers, sight-seeing, and taking pictures at a local lake and state park. It was a lovely day for us, and it cost nothing but a bit of gas to get there and our picnic lunch.

Finding a way to look at the hardships in life as a blessing takes some serious effort. The CF community amazes me with this everyday. Would they choose to go through what accompanies having cystic fibrosis? Definitely not. It was a sad weekend in the CF community, because a beautiful young girl died at the age of fifteen due to CF-related struggles. (RIP, Lucy) And although many young people with CF felt very sad for her and her family, they keep doing what they need to do to keep themselves healthy. It’s a daily battle against the odds for them, but most of them approach the disease with an “I won’t let it beat me” attitude. They have a deeper appreciation for life than I can imagine. They find things to laugh about instead of things to complain about. As a parent of a child with CF, this is so important to embrace a “you have CF, but it doesn’t have you” attitude. No amount of complaining is going to take the disease away, and it would only give him a poor outlook on his life.

The more bad stuff that life chucks at you, the harder it is to keep a positive attitude. But I know that it’s vital to our health, our mind, and our well-being to stay positive. Sure, sometimes something happens that knocks us down for a while. A death of a loved one. A serious illness. The loss of a job. The loss of a home. But we can’t let any of those things keep us down, not only for our sake, but for the sake of our children. Because our children can’t be at our side forever, and once they start venturing out into the world without us, we can’t be a constant protection from the bad stuff. They are going to get hurt, get sick, get their hearts broken, lose a friend, struggle with schoolwork, get bullied. As parents, we need to show them that it’s okay. That we may get knocked down by life, but that we get back up again and find something to smile about.

My boys learn everything from me. I need to cut out the sass, and stay focused on the good things in life. Because if you ask me, my life is pretty darn good, and I want them to see life that way too.

How do you encourage a positive attitude?


4 Comments on “The Biggest Impact: Attitude”

  1. You go Mom!! A positive attitude will get you places and make your life so blessed.

  2. I need to drop the sass too, my daughter has bucket loads….

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