My youngest daughter is a glass half empty kind of girl. If something doesn't go her way or is the least bit discouraging, she automatically jumps to the worst possible conclusion. If we have to postpone an activity for some reason, her response is often "Now, we'll never get to go." If she struggles with learning something, her attitude is often "I'll never figure it out."
As a glass half full kind of girl myself, I find myself frustrated with her attitude. I want her to see the good side of life and not just the downside. I want her to rejoice despite her circumstances. I want her to have an attitude of contentment. I want her to know that God is in control no matter what is going on around her.
I know that some of my daughter's attitude is simply the way God made her. We can't all be Pollyannas. But part of her attitude isn't godly at all. When we automatically jump to the worst conclusion, we're saying that we don't think God is in control. We think the situation is bigger than He is. We're saying we don't believe the promises of Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose" and Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
So, how do we change our attitudes? How do we foster attitude change in our kids? The truth is we can't change our own attitudes or our kids' attitudes. We have to let God work on the heart. We can, however, remind ourselves and our kids to ask God to change our hearts. We can teach our kids that God is trustworthy and always keeps His promises. We can teach them to always take their problems to Him.
If you want to foster attitude change in your home -- whether it's glass half empty syndrome or disobedience or a less than loving attitude toward others -- start and end with prayer with a few simple reminders tucked in between.
Pray for your kids. If your child is struggling with a certain attitude, pray for them. Look up that attitude in a concordance or an online Bible search engine like Bible Gateway. Find specific scriptures that relate to the attitude and pray those scriptures for your child.
Choose a verse or two for your child to memorize. God's word can work in our hearts, even when we're not aware of it. Scripture is never wasted. Isaiah 55:10-11 says "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." God's word is powerful. It can change hearts. It can change our kids. If we help them to hide God's word in their hearts, then it will work in their hearts to change their attitudes.
Help your kids see where their attitudes are not pleasing to God. Whenever a particular attitude crops up, don't just get angry. Talk with your kids and help them to see that God doesn't like their attitude. Talk with them about how only God can change our hearts, and He will help them to change the attitude. All they have to do is ask.
Institute discipline for the behavior. While we want attitude change to come from the heart, our kids need to know that actions have consequences. While we don't discipline our daughter for being a pessimist, we do discipline her when that pessimism leads her to treat others poorly or to say mean things. Discipline alone won't create heart change, but it is a reminder to our kids to think about what they are doing and saying.
Pray with your kids. When the attitude that needs to change makes an appearance, pray with your child about changing it. Show them how to ask God for help. Pray with them and ask God to help your child to change his or her attitude so it is pleasing to God.
Attitude change doesn't happen overnight. Changing ingrained behavior patterns and thought patterns takes time. No matter how much discipline we offer to correct the behavior, true change has to come from the heart. The only One who can create that change is God. Teaching our kids now that attitude change only comes with God's help will help them know what to do when their attitude gets out of control in the future.
Thanks so much to all of you who joined me for The Best Summer Ever Series. We'll have a few shorter series this summer, including one on prayer and a Christmas in July series. The winner of the $15 Cold Stone Creamery gift card is Wendi Whitley. Congratulations, Wendi!