Focus on the Good Stuff

It's been a long school year for my oldest daughter. After having a fantastic fourth-grade year, her fifth-grade experience hasn't been that great. She's handling the schoolwork fine, but she's not really engaged in her classroom and the girl drama factor has increased ten-fold. About a month ago, I noticed that our mornings were going something like this: wake up the kids, listen to my oldest complain for half an hour about having to go to school, kiss the kids and send them off to school. When my girls got home, my oldest would tell me all about how much she disliked school. After checking to make sure nothing really terrible was happening at school, it dawned on me that my daughter was making her day a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While it would be nice to be able to change the issues that are making my daughter unhappy with school, I can't change her teacher, the kids in her class or the school work. What we can change is her attitude toward school.

I don't think I'm ever going to send her out the door to school skipping and singing, but if we start the day with the right attitude then the things that happen at school won't seem so bad. If my daughter's mind is focused on the good things in life, then everything else won't seem so bad.

God knows this. That's why He tells us to focus our minds on the best thing -- Him. Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." When we view the days as an opportunity to be an example of God to others, when our minds are firmly focused on Him, we can put the irritations of the day aside as "light and momentary troubles" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

But that attitude is tough for me to master. How does a 10-year-old get her mind around it? It starts with what she sees from me. Teaching her to have a God-focused attitude means I have to have one, too. If she sees me grumble about the unpleasant aspects of my day in the morning, then she learns that behavior as well.

Create an atmosphere that fosters God-centered attitudes in your home by modeling it and teaching your kids how to turn their minds from grumbling to rejoicing.

  • Pray, pray and pray some more. Start your day by praying for your kids. Ask God to give them and you attitudes that reflect all He has done for you, not the minor irritations of the coming day. Pray with your kids about whatever issues are robbing them of their joy. Teach your kids to pray while they are in the situations that are causing them angst.
  • Outlaw complaining for complaining's sake. If your child has legitimate concerns, let them share them, but don't let them make broad statements about how much they dislike whatever activity is causing the issue. My daughter was telling me every morning how much she disliked school. She was setting up her day to be miserable from the get-go. So, we simply told her she couldn't make broad generalizations about hating school. If she had a specific issue to discuss, we would discuss it, but we weren't going to start every day with a poor attitude.
  • Focus on the good stuff. Even if your child dislikes doing something, there are probably parts of the activity that he likes. My daughter doesn't hate everything about school. She likes her friends, recess and PE. If she starts complaining about school in general, we stop her and ask her to name something she does like.
  • Create an expectation of something good. God promises us that all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Even the bad stuff, God can use for good. Before you send your kids off to whatever activity is causing their poor attitude, remind them that God has good stuff in store for them. Set your kids up to expect that God will do something good during their day.
  • Set aside some time to share what God has done during the day. Whether at dinner or at bedtime or right after school, ask your kids to share one good thing that God did in their lives that day. This gets your kids focused on seeing how God is working in their lives and focusing on how He makes things work for good.

Focusing on the good things God is doing in our lives, fills us with joy. It drives out the tendency to focus on everything that has gone wrong and gives us a refreshed spirit. When negative attitudes creep into your and your kids' lives, drive them out by focusing on the good God is doing.

Linking up today with Women Living Well .