When the Child You Love Has a Bad Attitude

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Ever deal with a kid stomping around the house in a nasty mood? “Breakfast is horrid. Suzy’s sitting in my spot. I hate math!”

What to do when your child has a bad attitude.

Let’s face it, kids don’t always have the most pleasant attitude about education, school, and chores. For some reason, they see these necessary tasks as impositions on their free time.

I can’t imagine why. It’s not like we’re expecting them to write a paper or learn their timetables.

Oh wait, we are!

Kids usually begin with great attitudes about school. My small children adore school. The little 6 and 7-year-olds jump up and down for joy at the thought of filling out a worksheet just like the big kids.

The novelty wears off over time. I’ve yet to see a middle school kid jump for joy at the thought of another math drill sheet. For some reason, they treat math drills like they do folding the laundry. I don’t know about you, but laundry isn’t on my top 10 list of favorite activities.

I’d also like to comment that kids are just like us.

There are days we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and everything goes wrong. The same happens to our kids. They’ll have days when they’re grumpy, moody, and everything is terrible.

However, this doesn’t mean we just have to accept bad attitudes, particularly bad attitudes that stick around for months at a time.

Sleep and Food

A lot has changed since our children were toddlers. They’re able to communicate. They no longer tear around the house trying to destroy everything they touch. Lack of sleep and food no longer sends them into a full-blown melt-down.

However, a lack of sleep and food now sends our kids into the pits of a bad attitude. They glower at us, argue, fuss, and pick fights with their siblings.

Make certain your kids are getting enough sleep at night and aren’t staying up until the crack of dawn.

If you’re wondering how much sleep is needed, the National Sleep Foundation has a chart for children from newborns all the way up to 25 years old.

Food is the same. A hungry kid is a cranky kid. What I find most frustrating about children is the fact that the amount they eat changes all the time. One day a child is full after a small plate of food. The next day the same child is eating everything in the fridge and searching the cabinets for more.

Keep an eye on your kids, especially teenage boys between 13 and 15 years old, and make certain they’re getting enough to eat. My teenage boys all started devouring everything in the fridge.

Wrong Side of the Bed

Sometimes the entire family gets up on the wrong side of the bed. You put breakfast on the table. The dog’s barking, the baby’s crying, and the older kids are fighting. You can tell it’s going to be a long day.

I’ve been known to restart the day when this happens. This means I set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and send the children back to bed.

They may read books, nap, or play quietly. I sit downstairs, enjoying a cup of coffee in peace and quiet.

When the timer goes off, the kids may restart the day. Usually, I’ve found the 30-minute break is enough for everyone to calm down, relax, and start the day right.

Personal Problems

While we may believe we know everything about what’s going on with our kids, often we don’t know all the details.

Your kid may be angry about a fight with her best friend. He may be frustrated over a computer game.

Some of what disturbs our kids seem small to us. However kids are just learning how to deal with emotional angst, and they’re learning on the small stuff.

If you have a cranky kid stomping around the house, sit down with them. Play a game together, listen to them ramble about their favorite topic, and piece together if there’s something big bothering them.

Sometimes it takes a while for kids to open up about their troubles.

Having a well-run homeschool means taking the time to find out what’s going on to turn your child into a surly brat. Enjoy a cup of tea and a long discussion together. Change plans and enjoy a reading day, a game day, or simply send everyone to bed and start over again.

How do you handle your children when they have a bad attitude?

Read more posts in the 31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool series!

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    1. I’ve restarted the day many times over the course of my homeschool. Those few minutes of reading and relaxing improves everyone’s mood. 🙂

  1. I can imagine how much it would help! Honestly, I’ve applied this concept to when my husband and I start fighting at some point or another. After apologizing, I just ask if we can restart the morning/evening, and it makes such a big difference to take a deep breath and start over. Helps put things in the right perspective/attitude again. 🙂

  2. Love the restart idea! I don’t think my littles are quite ready to just jump back in bed, but I could modify it to restart by having them read a book or look at a calm down activity while I hold the baby and have some quiet time! Thanks for the tips, all of them 🙂

    1. Calm down activities are wonderful! Separating kids and giving everyone a chance to calm down is the best way to restart the day. 🙂

  3. Another excellent post! I am so glad I found your blog! My 3 yo girl LOVES school! My 3 yo boy would rather play. My 5 yo loves it one day and wants to play another. My 11 yo is obedient and does what she is asked….. It may take FoReVeR, though!

  4. WOW, I have never started over like that before, but I can totally see the value in that. It gives a redemptive moment for everyone. So great! Also, I was moved by the suggestion to make some tea and talk. It sounds obvious now that I’ve read it, but I often focus on the children having a great attitude. Sometimes that’s helpful, but other times it would really benefit our family dynamic to take a moment to dig into our relationship and show them that I care. 🙂 Good word. Thanks for writing!

  5. hard days mean backing off expectations and just talking with each other. Works almost every time, when it doesn’t it’s because a lad is too tired. 🙂 that’s where reading books and watching good shows comes into play.

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